Match Preview - Australia vs Sri Lanka, First CB series final at Brisbane
After a lackluster display against India, the Sri Lankans bowlers came back strongly against Australia in the final group match at Melbourne and held their nerves to defend 238 and earn a much deserved place in the best of three finals along with the hosts, starting this Sunday in Brisbane. While the lively conditions at the Gabba should favour the Aussies, the spirited Lankans have peaked at the right time and expect them to provide strong resistance.
Even though Australia has had its share of problems with a misfiring top order and inconsistency in bowling, they would start as favorites in Brisbane. The good news for the home side is the return of the inform regular skipper Michael Clarke, who should make it to the XI at the expense of David Warner. Shane Watson, who proved his worth with a well compiled half century at the MCG, is likely to return to the opening slot and the middle order will be manned by the consistent Peter Forrest, Micheal Hussey and David Hussey. With Brett Lee uncertain due to injury, James Pattinson and Ben Hilfenhaus should take the new ball with Clint Mckay as the first change bowler. Since the wicket in Brisbane is expected to provide more pace and carry, the presence of Watson and Daniel Christian will provide more seam options for Clarke and Xavier Doherty will be the lead spinner.
On the other hand, the Sri Lankans will be on a high after going past Australia for the third time in the group stage. With the big three, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara going through a purple patch, the batting looks to be in good hands. Even the youngsters, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne, have been impressive and made their presence felt. On the bowling front, while disciplined efforts from Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara would be heartening, injuries to all rounders Fervez Maharoof, Angelo Mathews and Thisira Parera will be a cause of concern. Even though Chamara Kapugedara has been called in as a replacement, it will be a test of Jayawardene’s captaincy skills and be interesting to see how he will cope up with the disturb in balance.
Ground: The Gabba, Brisbane
Timings: 0850 hrs IST
Channels Telecasting: Star Cricket, Star Cricket HD, ESPN
Sri Lanka v Australia at Melbourne (http://www.espncricinfo.com/commonwealth-bank-series-2012/engine/match/518967.html )
Sri Lanka 238 allout (50) | Australia 229 allout (49.1) | Sri Lanka won by 9 runs
Probable Playing XI
1 Matthew Wade (wk), 2 Shane Watson, 3 Peter Forrest, 4 Michael Clarke (c) 5 Michael Hussey, 6 David Hussey, 7 Daniel Christian, 8 James Pattinson, 9 Xavier Doherty ,10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Clint McKay/Brett Lee
1 Mahela Jayawardene (c), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera/Chamara Kapugedara, 8 Fervez Maharoof 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Rangana Herath
Players to Watch out for:
James Pattinson: The youngster looked very impressive with a four wicket haul at the MCG. With the conditions expected to be more in his favor, his spell might decide the outcome of the match.
Mahela Jayawardene: The skipper had an indifferent start to the CB series but since opening the innings, he seems to be back to hs fluent self. With a knack of performing in the big games, he will be the batsman Aussies will be most wary of.