World Cup 2019: Desperate Sri Lanka faces Australia storm

Sri Lanka has not played a match at the World Cup since June 4, forced to split points with Bangladesh and Pakistan following two washed out games.

Sri Lanka hopes Nuwan Pradeep (centre) would be fit for the game against Australia after getting injured during a training session at Bristol County Ground.   -  Getty Images

After two washed out games, Sri Lanka will be desperate to come out all guns blazing but defending champion Australia’s depth will be hard to beat when the two sides clash in a World Cup league fixture on Saturday.

Sri Lanka has not played a match at the World Cup since June 4, forced to split points with Bangladesh and Pakistan following two washed out games.

The island nation, which won the World Cup in 1996, stands fifth with just one win — against minnow Afghanistan in a rain-hit match — from four games.

Defending champion Australia, on the other hand, has been unstoppable with its loss against India being the only blemish in an otherwise professional performance so far in the tournament.

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The five-time winner is placed second with three wins from four games.

With two fifties and a hundred, David Warner has been outstanding, helping Australia post 300-plus scores in the last two matches.

The opener hasn’t yet looked his destructive best but the 107 off 111 balls against Pakistan will ease his mind. The knock was his first century since making a comeback after the ball-tampering scandal and he would look to play with more freedom.

Skipper Aaron Finch too has two fifties to show in the last four innings. Warner and Finch gave Australia a rampaging start against Pakistan in its last match and the duo will back themselves for an encore against Sri Lanka.

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However, Australia have looked vulnerable against quality pace bowling — it was reduced to 79 for five by West Indies.

Its middle order is brittle and squandered superb starts against Pakistan and India. Sri Lanka will look to exploit these weaknesses on Saturday.

Sri Lanka will hope fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, who injured himself ahead of the Bristol game, returns to strengthen the bowling attack.

Veteran pacer Lasith Malinga, who had to fly home following the demise of mother-in-law, is also likely to play and the onus would be on the pace duo to make early inroads.

In the batting department, the Dimuth Karunaratne-led side has failed to last the full 50 overs against New Zealand and Afghanistan.

It lost five wickets for 14 runs against New Zealand and seven wickets for 36 runs against Afghanistan.

The former champion will have to address its batting woes before it takes on the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, both of whom have taken nine wickets each so far.

Squads

Australia: Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wkt), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh and Kane Richardson.

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Dhananjaya de Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Avishka Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana and Jeffrey Vandersay.

Match starts at 3pm (IST).