ODI Three: Sunday, August 28 from 7pm at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, Watch on Fox Sports
Series tied at 1-1
Match One: Australia (7/228) defeated Sri Lanka (8/227) by three wickets
Match Two: Sri Lanka (288) defeated Australia (206) by 82 runs
Sri Lanka: $2.29 with Sportsbet.com.au
Australia: $1.63 with sportsbet.com.au
THIS series looks like it is going to go down to the wire.
Tied at 1-1, Australia and Sri Lanka are set to battle out a titanic struggle in their five match One Day International series on the Sub Continent, with the victor guaranteed to have earned every single bit of their reward, thanks to the spinning tracks that are turning sideways.
Australia recovered from its horrible 3-0 whitewash in the Test Series to claim first blood in the one dayers, claiming victory in the opening match by three wickets, but Sri Lanka battle back and have tied it up.
The Sri Lankans won the toss in Colombo and elected to bat, setting a massive total on decks that have been traditionally tough to score on all tour.
Despite losing two early wickets with the score at 12, the Aussie’s tormentor, Kusal Mendis, steadied the ship with Dinesh Chandimal, setting a platform for captain Angelo Mathews and Kusal Perera to build an unassailable total.
Mendis was particularly devastating against Aussie part timer Travis Head, clubbing him for 20 runs off one over, including four boundaries, on his way to a Sri Lankan high 69 at a run a ball.
He has been the find of the tour for Sri Lanka, delivering in spades on the promise that Sri Lanka’s selectors had shown in him and, after his dominant performance in the Tests and his 67 in match one, he really is a no-brainer to be our pick for the most runs for Sri Lanka in this match.
Mendis’ innings featured nine boundaries and was complemented by Chandimal’s 48 off 67 balls as he played the anchor role.
once they departed, Mathews took over the running, slapping 57 off 60 balls, doing plenty of running with just one boundary and a pair of towering sixes, while Perera hit the third half century of the innings, striking 54 off 53 balls, including five boundaries and a six.
When it was all said and done, the Sri Lankans had reached a total of 288, but not before James Faulkner created a highlight reel moment for his career.
The medium pacer, who has been perhaps Australia’s most reliable one day bowler over the past few years, claimed a hat trick as the Sri Lankans chased quick runs at the end of the innings, removing Perera with the last ball of the 46th over and then claiming Mathews and the other Perera with the first two balls of the 48th.
It is that type of form we like to see when we are predicting who will claim the player props and that is why Faulkner is our pick for the most wickets in match three.
His hat trick gave him 3/45 in the match, joining spinner Adam Zampa (3/42) and seamer Mitchell Starc (3/53) – fresh off being the fastest player in history to 100 One Day International wickets.
The 288 was always going to be a tough mountain to climb in Sri Lanka and the Australians started woefully, losing David Warner for one and Aaron Finch for four to be in all sorts of trouble at 2/16. But captain Steve Smith (30) and George Bailey (27) steadied the ship somewhat.
Matty Wade broke out of his slump with 76 off 88 balls to give the Aussies some hope, but, despite 31 from Travis Head, the total was simply a mountain too high to climb.
Warner has had a stinking start to the series, but he is our pick to bounce back and top score for the Australians in this match.
He has been handed the captaincy responsibility and will want to lead from the front. Plus, he is far too good a one day player to continue batting as poorly as he has. Back him in for a big one here.
As far as the Sri Lankan bowlers are concerned, Amila Aponso, in just his second one day international, added to the spinners’ torment of the Australians, claiming 4/18 off 9.5 overs.
He decimated the Aussies and, while you could pick any one of the Sri Lankan’s brigade of spinners, we’re going with this kid as our pick for the most wicket. The Australians simply had no idea how to play him.
The thing that really hurts the Australians is the fact that their best batsman – and captain – Steve Smith is on a plane back to Australia, sent home early to prepare for the series with South Africa.
Smith has been just about the only batsman that has looked even remotely comfortable against the irresistible spin of the Sri Lankans and that makes his departure a huge blow to the green and gold effort.
Match result: Sri Lanka to win ($2.29 with sportsbet.com.au)
The loss if Smith is a huge blow for the Australians and their inability to contain the Sri Lankans’ batting, coupled with another struggle with the bat in match two cost them dearly. We can’t see them turning it around without their captain. The Sri Lankans have been irresistible with both bat and ball during this tour and they should be able to take the lead in the series. The Sri Lankans have made a habit of losing an early wicket throughout their tussles with Australia on this tour, while the the Aussies have had a tendency to get off to decent starts – apart from the one dayers – before succumbing to the spinning wiles of their opponents. That’s why we are tipping the stand in captain Warner and his opening partner Finch to put a strong start together, after failing to capitalise in the first two matches here.