T20 World Cup: Will Sri Lankans get their dew?

Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (left) during the match against Bangladesh. (AFP)
Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (left) during the match against Bangladesh. (AFP)

Bengaluru - The Sri Lankans could become a threat to the Aussies if they bat second in this evening game, where dew could be a decisive factor



By Sumit Chakraberty

Published: Thu 28 Oct 2021, 12:09 AM

Australia and Sri Lanka both had narrow wins in their opening matches in Group 1 in contrasting styles. Australia huffed and puffed to a target of 119 against South Africa in Abu Dhabi, while Sri Lanka chased down a daunting target of 172 in Sharjah against Bangladesh. Both teams will now have to adjust to the conditions in Dubai. Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka and Aussie skipper Aaron Finch will no doubt be reviewing Sunday’s India-Pakistan match to hone their strategies.

Win the toss

The stronger team on paper is Australia. The bounce and movement that pacers have got in Dubai will make the Aussie attack as much of a handful for Sri Lanka as the Pakistan new ball attack proved for India at this venue. Shanaka’s best chance, it would appear under the circumstances, is to make the right call at the toss. The Sri Lankans could become a threat to the Aussies if they bat second in this evening game, where dew could be a decisive factor. Of course, the Lankans will have to keep wickets in hand long enough for the ground to get wet in the last 10 overs. Australia, on the other hand, can show other teams how to win despite batting first in the evening in Dubai.

Leg-spinners

Although pacers have been doing most of the damage here, the Dubai pitch does offer turn and bounce. That is usually what leg-spinners like for their mix of leg breaks, top spins, and googlies. Both teams have good leg-spinners to take advantage of this — Wanindu Hasaranga of Sri Lanka and Adam Zampa of Australia. Sri Lanka could also bring in Akila Dananjaya, who switches between off-spin and leg-spin depending on the batsman. Dananjaya became a talking point earlier this year for taking a hat trick against the West Indies in Antigua and then getting clobbered for six sixes in the very next over by Kieron Pollard. So, fasten your seat belts if Dananjaya plays.

Pace trio

The Sri Lankans have given a glimpse of the fearless batting they’re capable of producing, albeit against a weaker opposition and a slow wicket in Sharjah. Now they have to do an encore against a pace bowling trio that’s as good as it gets: Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Pat Cummins. The two left-handers, Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who got fifties at a high strike rate against Bangladesh have to find a way to maintain their good form. They can’t just carry on where they left off because the conditions are so different just 30 km away from Sharjah. As for the Aussies, they will want to bowl fast and mean to make inroads with the new ball, just like Shaheen Shah Afridi did against India.

Aussie vulnerability

Batting is where the Aussies are vulnerable. This was evident in their game against South Africa, where a target of 119 almost seemed too far. David Warner’s string of failures stretches ever longer, and Aaron Finch looks rusty. Steve Smith is steady but struggles to get into T20 mode. Glenn Maxwell is the man in form, but they will need a couple of more match-winners as they go deeper in the tournament.

Dress rehearsal

Sri Lanka have shown good form through the tournament so far, and we have to see how they fare now against the big boys. But for most viewers, this match will be a dress rehearsal for the big games coming up this weekend in Dubai between Australia and England on Saturday and India and New Zealand on Sunday. Those are also evening games, so coaches and captains will be looking for clues to unlocking a winning strategy.

Sumit Chakraberty is a writer based in Bengaluru. Write to him at chakraberty@gmail.com


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