T20 World Cup 2021: The Aussie test for unpredictable Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka will rely on Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa's red-hot form, while Australia will expect the bowlers to do the damage.

Sri Lanka cricketers Charith Asalanka and Dasun Shanaka celebrate their victory over Bangladesh.   -  AP

Australia will face Sri Lanka in Dubai on Thursday to strengthen its position in the Group 1 points table as the scramble for the semifinal spots picks up pace in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup.

Both teams won their respective last matches, albeit in contrasting fashion. Australia scraped through after an outstanding bowling performance against South Africa, while Sri Lanka rode on Charith Asalanka's unbeaten 80 and Bhanuka Rajapaksa's 53 from 31 balls to win against Bangladesh after being 79-4 in its chase of 172.

For Australia, Aaron Finch and David Warner will continue opening despite struggling for runs. Matthew Wade has backed them to come good. "I don't see a lack of form at all. They're terrific players. They're just short of runs. To be honest, guys that are world-class players for as long as they have been in this format are never out of form. They're just short of runs at the moment," Wade said on Wednesday.

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Marcus Stoinis and Wade played crucial cameos in the lower order in the first Super 12 encounter and are likely to retain their batting positions.

But if the top three fire in unison, Glenn Maxwell and either Stoinis or Wade could be sent ahead of Steve Smith, who batted at No. 4 against South Africa.

Meanwhile, Australia will be pleased with the way Josh Hazlewood bowled in the powerplay. Maxwell's four overs are a bonus.

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Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur has confirmed that spinner Maheesh Theekshana will play if fit. "He's improved tremendously. So we'll warm him up tomorrow; and if everything goes well, he'll be playing," Arthur said. Lahiru Kumara might ask probing questions of a wobbly Australian top-order with his pace.

The match between India and Pakistan and then West Indies and South Africa showed that there are runs on offer in Dubai if batters temper their batting approach according to conditions. The change of pace will be key for bowlers and the team bowling second will also have to contend with dew.

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