Ricky Ponting has an outstanding record against Sri Lanka © Getty Images

 

By Dileep V

 

Australia and Sri Lanka meet under the floodlights of the Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, in a crunch Group A match on Saturday. Australia have won both their games in the World Cup, whereas Sri Lanka beat Kenya and Canada but lost to Pakistan at the same venue.

 

The teams have met on 71 times occasions in ODIs, with Australia winning 47 and Sri Lanka 22. Sri Lanka have held the upperhand when playing in their country, winning 11 of the 19 encounters.

 

In World Cups, Australia have beaten Sri Lanka in six of the seven games played – the solitary defeat coming in the 1996 World Cup final. Their last meeting was also in the final of the last edition, which Australia won emphatically – their third consecutive title triumph.

 

Watch out for the old guards

 

Ricky Ponting, Kumara Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene lead the run scoring charts. No surprises. Considering that Australia and Sri Lanka have played against each other so many times.

 

Ponting and his deputy Michael Clarke have an outstanding record against the islanders. The openers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin have had a torrid time and so does Cameron White and Steven Smith, though all of them haven’t turned up against Sri Lanka that often.

 

Australia batsmen vs Sri Lanka

 

Player

Inns

Runs

Avg

Avg in SL

Difference

R Ponting

38

1450

43.93

43.66

0.27

M Clarke

20

657

54.75

20.75

34.00

S Watson

8

139

23.16

7.00

16.16

B Haddin

6

138

23.00

9.00

14.00

 

 

Sangakkara and Jayawardene both have in excess of 1000 runs against the Aussies. Sangakkara’s 1090 runs have come at an average of 41.92, while Jayawardene has 1002 runs at a lowly 30.36 average. Sangakkara is the only Sri Lankan player in the squad to have scored a century against the World champions.

 

Australia have to tackle Muralitharan to dominate middle overs

 

Muttiah Muralitharan has the highest wickets among bowlers from both the teams. But his wickets have come at an expensive average of 31.85. Lasith Malinga, too, hasn’t had a great time, scalping just 11 wickets, while Ajanta Mendis hasn’t played a game against them.

 

Muralitharan vs Aussie batsmen

 

Player

M

Runs

Dismissals

Avg

M/Dis

0s

M Clarke

22

109

        4

27.25

5.5

1

R Ponting

33

149

        3

49.66

11.0

0

S Watson

9

51

        3

17.00

3.0

0

B Haddin

5

41

        1

41.00

5.0

0

 

 

Brett Lee too has had an ordinary outing against Sri Lanka capturing 21 wickets in 19 matches at a high average of 38.23

 

Clarke with his part time slow left-arm spin is the only player in the present team to have taken a five for against the islanders. Watson and Mitchell Johnson have couple of wickets in their kitty but at a higher economy and average respectively.

 

The Venue

 

R Premadasa stadium in Colombo has hosted 97 ODIs till date, of which Sri Lanka has played 80 of them. Sri Lanka has won 49 and lost 26 at this venue. Australia on the other hand have won six and lost five.

 

The team batting first has gone on to win the match 57 teams, while the one chasing has won it 34 times. So clearly the strategy at this ground is to win the toss and bat.

 

The Average first innings score at this venue is 239 and 229 for second Innings.

 

Sri Lanka and Australia have met nine times at this venue, with Sri Lanka triumphing in five of them and Australia in four.

 

No Australian has ever got a century in Premadasa and they will be eager to change that record. Ponting though has three 50s and will look to improve his record.

 

The Sri Lankan batsmen thrive at this ground and expectedly have a good record here.

 

Sri Lanka batsmen at R Premadasa stadium

 

Player

Inns

Runs

Avg

SR

HS

100s/50s

K Sangakkara

43

1224

31.38

73.86

101

1/7

M Jayawardene

48

1183

28.16

74.12

101*

1/8

T Dilshan

26

716

31.13

80.72

97

0/2

U Tharanga

11

384

38.40

81.35

105

1/2

C Silva

6

289

48.16

67.68

73

0/4

 

 

Muralitharan and Malinga have an outstanding record capturing 71 and 25 wickets respectively. Muralitharan’s wickets have come at 26.46 and an economy of 3.82, while Malinga has an average of 19.36 and a brilliant strike rate of 24.9

 

On paper, Sri Lanka look like they would steamroll Australia. It will be a contest between the powerful Sri Lankan bowling against an equally dangerous Australian top order.

 

 

(Dileep.V is a Scouser fan, Sports freak, Movie buff, Laggard Quizzer and dreams of setting foot on Anfield one day)