Having taken a 2-1 lead on Sunday evening, Australia will be looking to secure the series with a third win in Dambulla on Wednesday.
Will the hosts be able to keep the series alive with a win or will the Aussies exact their revenge for the 3-0 whitewashing they received in the Test series? Let’s take a look:
Sri Lanka vs Australia | Wednesday 31 August | Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium | 09:00
To Win Match
Sri Lanka 5/4 | Tie 35/1 | Australia 67/100
The Sri Lankans only have themselves to blame for not claiming victory against Australia in the second one day international in Colombo. A below-par batting performance in which only two batsmen – Tillakaratne Dilshan (42) and Dinesh Chandimal (102) – managed to score more than 17 on a wicket that made batting slightly tricky.
Truth be told, it was the Sri Lankan spinners that nearly pulled off the most unlikely of victories. With the Aussies cruising at 187-4 in their pursuit of 227, they needed just 40 to win with Matthew Wade and George Bailey looking comfortable as anything.
Dilruwan Perera and Amila Aponso bowled out of their skin, tearing through the Australian lower middle order before Adam Zampa hit the winning runs – albeit in fortuitous circumstances.
So where to now for the Sri Lankans? They’ve lost an absolute juggernaut at the top of the order in Dilshan who has retired from ODI cricket. The 39-year-old exits the format having played 330 matches with an average of 39.27. So who comes into that opening berth?
One would imagine that Kusal Perera will partner Danushka Gunathilaka in what will arguably be the most powderpuff opening partnerships in world cricket. That doesn’t bode well for a middle and lower order that generally struggle to perform when the pressure is on – and nothing quite turns up the pressure like losing your openers cheaply.
I desperately want to see the Sri Lankans level up the series with a win in the fourth ODI. Doing so would make the fifth and final ODI quite the spectacle. I have my reservations, though. Without Dilshan at the top of the order, the Islanders look vulnerable – especially in the face of Mitchell Starc who has bowled magnificently well throughout this series.
The Australians have Adam Zampa and George Bailey to thank for their victory in the third ODI. Zampa’s performance with the ball went a long way in ensuring that the Sri Lankans never really got going with the bat. Figures of 38-3 off 10 overs underline his credentials as one of the better up and coming leg spinners in world cricket.
Bailey also impressed in the chase. His measured 99-ball 70 anchored the Australian chase after David Warner, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh all fell cheaply. He was ably supported by Matthew Wade who chipped in with a handy 40 before the returning Sri Lankan spinners almost pulled the rug out from beneath the visitors’ feet.
Looking ahead, the Australians are better equipped to claim victory here – well on paper at least. Warner and Finch make up one of the most devastating opening partnerships in limited overs cricket while Bailey and Marsh offer a bit of solidity in the middle order.
While their batting line-up looks good, it’s their bowlers that are likely to get them over the line on Wednesday. Starc and Josh Hazlewood look good opening the bowling while James Faulkner and Zampa are especially effective on these sort of slower wickets.
Verdict: Australia at 67/100
As much as I want Sri Lanka to win this match, I just don’t see it happening. The loss of Dilshan – someone who provides solidity at the top of the order – doesn’t exactly help their cause. Their inferior ability with the bat will likely be the cause of their defeat unless Chandimal and Mendis really get going. Australia are good value at 67/100 and should be backed with a medium stake.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.