The ODI series between Sri Lanka and Australia reaches its middle match on Sunday when the two sides head back to Colombo for the third game of the five. The series couldn’t be better poised going into this game either.
Australia drew first blood earlier in the week but Sri Lanka rebounded to level up proceedings which means that both teams will head back to Colombo knowing that whoever can take this match down will be one up with two to play.
The home side deserve a lot of credit for the way they bounced back in the last game. I don’t think they did too much wrong in the opener all things being equal, and had the rain not arrived when it did it might be that the Sri Lankans would have won that match and would be 2-0 up going into this game. To get over the disappointment of that opener and come back and win despite the rain in the second game was no mean effort.
The big thing about their win in the second game was the fact that they did it without their best player in Wanindu Hasaranga who missed the match because of injury. To know they can win without him will do their confidence the world of good, especially when you consider that there is more to come from this team with the bat in hand too. Just quietly Sri Lanka are putting something together that they can move forward with.
I don’t think we’ve seen anything like what we expected to from Australia in this series so far. Admittedly the conditions aren’t the ones that they thrive in but they are usually such a good 50 over side but you sense they have been clinging on throughout this series to date. They are going to need to improve if they want to comfortably win the series but to their credit despite not really playing well so far they are still level after two matches.
Their batting is something that needs to improve. We haven’t really seen much at all outside of their openers apart from a blitz from Glenn Maxwell to win the opening ODI and that goes for the T20 series as well as these ODIs. While not completely dominating with the ball, Australia have at least offered signs of life with it despite the injuries they have to their attack. Australia won both T20s here earlier in the tour which might give them some confidence to go with.
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Sri Lanka are hoping that Wanindu Hasaranga will be fit to feature in the series before its conclusion but there are no signs that it will be in this match. If he isn’t fit then they could well go in with an unchanged team.
Australia have had their injury concerns throughout this tour and it might be that they have picked up another as Steve Smith is said to be a doubt for this match with a quad injury. Travis Head or Josh Inglis will be in line to replace him. None of the other injured players are set to return.
This part of the world isn’t really a place where I want to take the over in runs but although this isn’t the highest scoring ground in the world, when the pitch is fresh it isn’t the lowest scoring either. When we assess recent matches on these grounds we have to really be aware of how the pitches are because the same grounds are being used more and more since Covid. The last two first matches of a series here have seen first innings scores of 262/9 and 300/9 so it certainly isn’t a low scoring ground.
The run line here is 502.5 which given that this is the first match of the series in Colombo should be a little on the low side. Both these teams are missing key bowlers and with spin not likely to have as much of an impact as it did in the last game and as it surely will later in the series I’ve got to think the batters will have their day in the sun in this one. The first ODI of the series had a first innings score of 300 and I expect a similar effort here and then the second innings to take us over the line.
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