Australia run into dangerous Sri Lanka with elimination looming large

They might have been hoping for a return to glory days with a punchy performance in the T20 World Championship.

However, their dreams suffered an early jolt when they went down to the West Indies in their tournament opener. Now, they face the prospect of an early exit from the event if they lose to Sri Lanka in their last league match here on Monday.

Australia have not experienced such an early exit from any World Cup since the 1992 spectacle when they failed to enter the semis in front of their own crowd. But Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara was quick to point out the dangers of taking anything granted against Australia.

“I hope that Aussies are low on confidence. But knowing the Aussies, they’re going to come back even harder. We’ve just got to be prepared, mentally, and just to believe we can beat them,’’ Sangakkara said on the eve of the match.

Australian batsman David Hussey too was aware the importance of the game. “It was a disappointing result against West Indies but we have to move on.

“We have to win against Sri Lanka and win well to stay in the tournament. We have our backs against the wall but Australians love being in that situation,’’ he said.

“Hopefully, tomorrow afternoon you will see a different and a more disciplined Australian team,’’ Hussey added.

Rain and the run-rate is certain to play a crucial role in the tournament making each and every win important for the teams. Both Sangakkara and Hussey agreed upon this point, while stating that they have to cash in on every possibility of victory.

The Lankan leader was also of the opinion that spinners will play a huge role in the championship. “I think if you take Twenty20 cricket in England the successful bowlers have always been the spinners. In the IPL, one the most successful bowlers were spin bowlers. I think there’s a new age of cricket now in every country where the slower bowlers have an impact on the game,’’ he added.

That brought the question to the form of Ajantha Mendis, whose mystery bowler tag has eroded in the last few months. However, Sangakkara said Mendis was quite capable to meet the challenges in front of him.

“The novelty is always going to fade the longer you play cricket. The batsmen are no fools, they are going to come up with strategies to counter any bowler and Ajantha has just got to be a bit more creative in his thinking and field placing,” said Sangakkara.
“He has to change angles of the deliveries. So he’s got a lot of options left to him and there’s a lot that he can work with. I’m sure he’s going to become a stronger and better bowler for the fact that batsmen are starting to read him better. He’s going to have to change and change very quickly.’’

So both the teams have their share of strengths and worries, and that will only add to the excitement of the match.
DH News Service

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