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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Buoyant Sri Lanka a threat amid Australia's uncertain batting

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Should Sri Lanka play the extra spinner? Do Australia need Marcus Stoinis to bowl? (2:38)

Steve Harmison and Shahriar Nafees field the big questions ahead of Australia vs Sri Lanka (2:38)

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

Australia 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st70AJ FinchDA Warner
2nd10DA WarnerGJ Maxwell
3rd50DA WarnerSPD Smith
4th25SPD SmithMP Stoinis

ICC Men's T20 World Cup

First Round Group A
TeamMWLPTNRR
SL33063.754
NAM3214-0.523
IRE3122-0.853
NED3030-2.46
First Round Group B
TeamMWLPTNRR
SCOT33060.775
BAN32141.733
OMA3122-0.025
PNG3030-2.655
Group 1
TeamMWLPTNRR
ENG54182.464
AUS54181.216
SA54180.739
SL5234-0.269
WI5142-1.641
BAN5050-2.383
Group 2
TeamMWLPTNRR
PAK550101.583
NZ54181.162
INDIA53261.747
AFG52341.053
NAM5142-1.89
SCOT5050-3.543