T20 World Cup Wrap: Australia to rally batting line-up against Sri Lanka
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Kristy Havill

Following their first up win against South Africa, and the West Indies’ playoff hopes hanging by a thread already after two abysmal performances, Australia will look to further their own finals’ prospects when they take on Sri Lanka tomorrow morning (NZT). 

While many will be expecting the Aussies to comprehensively dispatch Sri Lanka, it could loom as a somewhat niggly fixture. Sri Lanka have a good head of steam up after going through the group stages unbeaten, as well as defeating Bangladesh by five wickets in both teams’ first Super 12 match. 

Not as much is known about this current Sri Lanka side as opposed to the stellar line-ups in the past that included the likes of Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Jayasuriya, Vaas and Muralitharan.

But one player who has been taking the tournament by storm is Maheesh Theekshana, the 21 year old off spin bowler who has been placed in the ‘mystery spinner’ category with his outstanding carrom balls and wrong’uns. 

After only debuting for his country in September he turned in a player of the match winning spell against Namibia, taking 3/25 from his four overs, and 3/17 from his allotted quota against Ireland. Theekshana was well on his way to causing more destruction against the Netherlands, taking two wickets for only three runs in his first over before leaving the field with a side strain. 

Rested as a precaution against Bangladesh, here’s hoping that he returns to test his wares against a quality Australian outfit. 

One name that would also be fun to see in the Sri Lankan side is Kamindu Mendis, who has the delightfully rare ability as an ambidextrous individual to bowl both right arm off spin and left arm orthodox. He hasn’t been sighted yet in the tournament, but wouldn’t it be a treat to see him get a run. 

Over in the opposition camp, it was a fine all-round team performance for our neighbours across the pond last time out against South Africa that resulted in a five wicket win – albeit with two balls remaining. 

Wickets shared across the board for the Australian bowlers make it difficult to predict if there will be any shuffling around for this match in Dubai, but it may be the batting roster that needs some attention after the, albeit successful, run chase showed some wobbles. 

Dare we say it, but Steve Smith also looks as if he is starting to put together the beginnings of returning to his usual self after also enduring a frustrating IPL campaign with the Delhi Capitals. His 35 from 34 was the top score for the Aussies and definitely anchored the chase after the top three all fell cheaply. 
David Warner’s awful run of form that saw him axed as captain and from the Sunrisers Hyderabad starting XI altogether during the IPL (much to every Kiwi’s delight) continued with a paltry 14 from 15 balls before being dismissed. However, it’s highly unlikely that he will be dropped as the coaching staff will probably give him some leeway to play himself into form considering his brilliant track record. 

The only other specialist batter that Australia have in their squad that could slot into the side is Josh Inglis, who cracked two centuries in the 2021 T20 Blast domestic competition in England for Leicestershire. 

This is Inglis’ maiden call up to the Australia squad so it could be a nice opportunity to blood the debutant, but it seems unlikely this early in the tournament when their place in the semi-finals is not yet assured. If captain Aaron Finch can get all of his ducks in a row, or rather, avoid getting another duck, then that would also ease the problem.