Lanka take on Australia with an eye on semis

Lanka take on Australia with an eye on semis

Defending champions Australia will have to put David Warner’s bar brawl controversy and questions surrounding the team’s culture behind them when they take on Sri Lanka in their final league fixture here on Monday to decide the last of the remaining ICC Champions Trophy semifinal places.

After England sealed their semifinal spot following their 10-run win over New Zealand, Sri Lanka, on two points, now need to beat Australia (1) to secure the second semifinal spot from Group A.

Australia, however, too have a very slim chance but they need to post a really massive win to pip New Zealand on net run rate. But that seems very unlikely as Australia are on          -0.960 while New Zealand are on +0.777
In case of a tie or washout between Australia and Sri Lanka, New Zealand would go through to the knockouts.

Sri Lanka were skittled out for a paltry 138 against New Zealand in their tournament-opener but a superb bowling show by slinger Lasith Malinga saw them very nearly defend the total before losing by one wicket.

Sri Lankan batsmen, however, gave a better account of themselves in their stunning run chase against England to romp home against the hosts. Led by Kumar Sangakkara’s unbeaten 134, they chased down the 294-run victory target with relative ease to keep their semifinal hopes alive.

For Australia, it would not just be about tackling the threat posed by in-form pacer Malinga but also to regroup after Warner’s altercation with England batsman Joe Root in the early hours of last Sunday morning.

Australia’s regular skipper Michael Clarke continues to battle back problems, which saw him missing the first two games, but is hopeful of a return to action. It will be a big test for stand-in skipper George Bailey to turn Australia’s fortunes around.
Australia bowlers Clint McKay, James Faulkner and Shane Watson did a decent job in restricting England to 269 when they were looking at a 300-plus score at one stage but they still need to add more sting to their attack.

Sri Lanka have built up a nice batting unit in big three -- Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene -- and a lot will depend on them in deciding the outcome of the match.

Their batsmen fired in unison against England in the last match with the likes of Dilshan, Jayawardene and Nuwan Kulasekara among the run-makers.

On the bowling front, Malinga would need some good back-up from Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath to cause damage in the fragile Australian line-up.

The weatherman has predicted partly cloudy sky with rain or thunderstorm and it would be interesting to see what fate has in store for both the teams.

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