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Match Preview – Australia vs Sri Lanka, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 22nd Match, Group 1




Australia are likely to be unchanged but Maheesh Theekshana could return for Sri Lanka if fit

Big Picture

This group is accepted as the toughest to emerge from but a victory for either Australia or Sri Lanka to make it two from two would leave them strongly placed for a semi-final slot.

Both sides chased successfully in their opening games, but Sri Lanka’s was more convincing than Australia’s albeit on a surface that was easier for strokeplay in Sharjah. The two teams last met in 2019 when Australia won 3-0 in home conditions.

Having come through the qualifying stage unbeaten, Sri Lanka are building some nice momentum having been an unfancied side before the tournament. The way Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa resurrected the innings against Bangladesh will have been a huge fillip.
For Australia, there was a bit of a sigh of relief to get over the line against South Africa, a match that shaped as vital for their hopes of progressing. They were excellent with the ball and in the field – led by Josh Hazlewood‘s superb opening spell and the bonus of Glenn Maxwell’s four overs – but if they are to go deep in the competition, they will need David Warner and Aaron Finch to fire.

Form guide

Australia WLWLL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WWWWL

In the spotlight

Before the tournament, Marcus Stoinis spoke to ESPNcricinfo about wanting to make himself into the best finisher in the world. One innings does not mean he has cracked the role, but it was significant that he was able to see Australia across the line when the pressure was on having fallen short previously. It would be a major box ticked if Stoinis can make a long-term success of it.
Lahiru Kumara was certainly fired up against Bangladesh and his actions after dismissing Liton Das, where he squared up to the batter and had to be separated by team-mates and umpires, cost him 25% of his match. He has pace and could trouble Australia’s top order that has some uncertainty about it. He needs to be careful to keep his cool, though.

Team news

While Justin Langer has said Australia will be flexible with their selections, it would appear unlikely they will change unless there are specific match-ups they want for the Sri Lankans. Mitchell Marsh and Stoinis were not needed with the ball against South Africa, so they provide extra options if Maxwell (or anyone else) can’t get through four overs.

Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Sri Lanka may also be unchanged although they could recall spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who missed the Bangladesh game with a side strain. If so he would likely replace Binura Fernando.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Kusal Perera (wk), 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Avishka Fernando, 5 Wanindu Hasaranga, 6 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 7 Dasun Shanka (capt), 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Lahiru Kumara, 11 Binura Fernando/Maheesh Theekshana

Pitch and conditions

After the match where West Indies were skittled for 55, Pakistan and South Africa have both chased middling targets comfortably in Dubai, which suggest batting second is the way to go. Dew could be a factor although not as much as in Abu Dhabi or Sharjah.

Stats and trivia

  • Going by the match-up data, Maxwell taking the new ball will be a good tactic again: in 13 balls against Kusal Perera in T20Is, he has dismissed him twice.
  • This is a contest between the two teams (who are in the Super 12s) with the lowest win percentage in 2021 – Australia is at 31.2% and Sri Lanka 43.7%.
  • In his search for runs, Warner won’t mind seeing Sri Lanka against whom he averages 55.90 in T20Is.
  • Quotes

    “The other day I saw their bowlers swing the ball early, then they bashed a length as well with the guys who have a bit of pace. So for it’s about identifying that the wicket suited that and Dubai might be a bit different, bigger boundaries, so they might go shorter.”
    David Warner on Sri Lanka’s quicks

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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    BCCI rejigs schedule of India vs West Indies ODIs and T20Is to avoid clash with IPL auction




    The board also confirmed the ODIs will be played in Ahmedabad, followed by the T20Is in Kolkata

    The BCCI has confirmed that the venues for the limited-overs series at home against West Indies will be Ahmedabad and Kolkata, and has also advanced the third ODI from February 12 to 11, to avoid a clash with the IPL auction slated for February 12-13. As reported by ESPNcricinfo on January 20, the board had planned to keep the venues to two instead of the original six, to limit any chance of the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the series.

    The BCCI said the move was “to mitigate biosecurity risks by cutting down on travel and movement of the teams, match officials, broadcasters, and other stakeholders.”

    The tour will begin with three ODIs, which will all take place in Ahmedabad, and the teams will then move to Kolkata for three T20Is. The ODIs are scheduled on February 6, 9 and 11. The opening T20I will now take place on February 16 instead of 15, and the remaining two T20Is will go ahead on February 18 and 20, as originally planned.

    As reported by ESPNcricinfo earlier, the BCCI had mooted the change of dates, and was waiting to make an official decision after discussions with Cricket West Indies.

    Last September, while unveiling India’s home calendar for 2021-22, the BCCI had named Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Kolkata as the venues for the ODIs, with the original dates being February 6, 9 and 12. The T20Is were to be played in Cuttack, Visakhapatnam and Thiruvananthapuram, on February 15, 18 and 20.

    Apart from avoiding a clash with the IPL auctions, the change in schedule is a precautionary step by the BCCI, taken in response to the growing number of positive cases in India, which is currently experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, with the Omicron variant dominant across the country. Though the impact of this wave has been less severe than the preceding Delta wave, the high degree of transmissiblity of Omicron has led to stringent curbs on movement and public activities, particularly in big cities.

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    Recent Match Report – Sunrisers vs Victorians 3rd Match 2021/22




    Nahidul picked up two wickets before scoring 16, as Victorians were made to work hard by Sunrisers

    Comilla Victorians 97 for 8 (Janat 18, Nazmul 3-17, Mosaddek 2-10) beat Sylhet Sunrisers 96 (Ingram 20, Mustafizur 2-15, Shohidul 2-15) by two wickets

    Comilla Victorians crawled to a two-wicket win in a low-scoring game against Sylhet Sunrisers in Mirpur. The match ended when Kesrick Williams bowled two wides, as Victorians needed two runs off nine balls with two wickets in hand. Victorians’ Nahidul Islam was adjudged Player of the Match after he followed his two wickets with 16 runs.
    Sunrisers’ left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam took three wickets, while offspinners Sohag Gazi and captain Mosaddek Hossain got two each. However, all their effort went in vain. Despite Victorians slipping to 88 for 8 in the 17th over, Mahidul Islam and Tanvir Islam, unbeaten on 9 and 3 respectively, got the job done.
    Big hit
    Sohag Gazi, out of the national side’s reckoning for five years, removed Victorians’ openers Faf du Plessis and Cameron Delport, before Mosaddek had Mominul Haque and Imrul Kayes caught on the off side. Karim Janat and Nahidul then added 27 runs for the sixth wicket, but both fell to Nazmul.
    Janat holed out at deep cover, while Nahidul gave Colin Ingram a simple catch at point. When Ravi Bopara took a tumbling catch at long-on to dismiss Shohidul Islam, Victorians were in trouble. With six required off the last two overs, Williams bowled a poor 19th over to hand victory to Victorians.

    Earlier, Sunrisers had batted similarly when they lost their top order early. Ingram fell to a miscued pull off seamer Shohidul for 20, giving Victorians control with the ball. Offspinner Nahidul bowled his four overs in one go, taking 2 for 20, as he made an impressive return to Victorians’ colours after six years.

    Left-arm spinner Tanvir followed it up with more control, taking 1 for 10 from his four overs. It encouraged Victorians captain Kayes to bring on the part-timer Mominul who removed Bopara. Mustafizur Rahman and Shohidul then completed the formalities, bowling Sunrisers out for 96 in 19.1 overs.

    Big miss
    Several of Bangladesh’s batting stars had a poor outing in this game. Sunrisers’ Anamul Haque, Mohammad Mithun and captain Mosaddek got out for single digits. Nahidul removed both Anamul, who lost his balance while trying to cut the ball, and Mithun, who was caught at point.
    Mosaddek gave Ariful Haque an easy catch at slip.

    Kayes swung and missed a couple of balls before hitting one to cover. Mominul holed out to short third man. du Plessis, billed as the BPL’s
    biggest star this season, also fell for a single-digit score when Gazi had him caught-and-bowled for 2.

    Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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    IPL 2022 likely to start from March 27




    Mumbai slotted in as first option to host 10-team tournament, with UAE and South Africa as back-ups

    The 2022 season of IPL is set to start in the last week of March, and is scheduled to run till May end. ESPNcricinfo has learned that in a meeting with the ten franchises on Saturday (January 22), the IPL authorities informed owners that they had pencilled in March 27 as a likely start date.

    The franchises were also told that the tournament would be held in India, with Mumbai slotted in as the main venue. And in case the Covid-19 numbers in India are low at the time, Ahmedabad could be considered as a second venue to host the play-offs. In case the pandemic situation in India is found to be not feasible to host the tournament, then South Africa and the UAE will be the back-up options in no particular order. At Saturday’s meeting, the IPL told the franchises that a final decision is expected to be taken by February 20.

    The reason the IPL has zeroed in on just one venue in Mumbai, which has multiple grounds, was to avoid travel and the debacle of 2021 edition, when the tournament had to be called off at the halfway stage due to the spike in the number of cases among teams. One key reason responsible for teams reporting growing Covid-19 positive cases was travelling between different cities. The tournament was postponed, before the second leg was held in the UAE in September-October.

    India is currently experiencing the third wave of the pandemic, with the Omicron variant dominant across the country. Though the impact is less severe, the high degree of transmissibility has led to stringent curbs on movement and public activities in big cities.

    Incidentally, even in 2021, the IPL had thought about holding the entire tournament in Mumbai, before deciding to host it across two cities at a time. This time they have decided to wait until mid-February, by when necessary government permissions would have been received and the feasibiity of hosting the tournament, which will feature 74 matches, in Mumbai can be checked.

    Along with the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai also has two other grounds that have hosted international matches: the Brabourne Stadium and the DY Patil stadium. There is also the Mumbai Cricket Association-run ground in Bandra-Kurla Complex, which has hosted domestic tournaments and where IPL teams have trained in the past.

    Teams split over UAE and South Africa
    It is learned that not all teams are unanimous about either of the two back-up options. Some of the franchises pointed out that the UAE, which has three venues, was becoming more predictable in terms of results as witnessed during the men’s T20 World Cup that was held in 2021, as well as the second leg of IPL 2021 that immediately preceded it. Another concern with the UAE was that the pitches could become weary by April-May, after a long season with multiple tournaments. However, others felt that barring Sharjah, which dished out slower pitches with low bounce last IPL, Dubai and Abu Dhabi hosted close contests.

    Some franchises also backed UAE only because there was no internal travel involved and the venue itself overall had been one of the safest spots globally during the pandemic. It was also pointed out by the IPL authorities that South Africa had one clear advantage in terms of multiple venues, but the counter to that – as pointed out by some franchises – was that any travel during the pandemic came laden with risk, as was already experienced in the first half of IPL 2021 in India, when the country had struggled to cope with the Delta variant.

    It is learned that some franchises said that one crucial aspect that the IPL had to take into account was the absence of any window in 2022 in case the tournament were to disrupted once again, due to travel-related reasons.

    Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo

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