Defending champions Australia will take on the 1996 winners Sri Lanka in the 20th Match of the 2019 Cricket World Cup at the Oval in London today at 1500 Sri Lanka time in sunny South London.
Arguably the most successful cricketing nation Australia is peaking at the right time to win another world crown as they have secured three important victories against Pakistan, West India and Afghanistan.
The Aaron Finch-led team had a minor blip at the same venue on Sunday, as batters succumbed to pressure against the Indians.
David Warner’s commanding century against Pakistan coupled with crucial runs from Finch and Steve Smith, have given the Aussie unit, the stability upfront.
All-rounders Nathan Coulter-Nile and Glen Maxwell have also played pivotal knocks at this year’s tournament.
The batting prowess is well complemented by their fearsome bowling attack with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc among the top five wicket-takers in the 2019 Cricket World Cup thus far.
Performances in the four encounters have given the Australians a place in the top four of the Points Table and much needed confidence in their pursuit for a record extending eighth cricket World Cup semi-finals.
The one-time juggernauts of World Cricket, Sri Lanka is reeling at the bottom half of the Points Table under the captaincy of Dimuth Karunaratne.
The 10-wicket loss against New Zealand in the opening game set the tone for Sri Lanka’s uninspiring 2019 World Cup campaign, as they only managed to scrape through to a 34-run DLS method win in the second encounter, the only victory so far.
The winnable games against Bangladesh and Pakistan were rained-off leaving the ninth ranked Sri Lanka a mountain to climb to reach the semi-finals.
Despite not being on the cricketing field, injuries continue to plague the team while off-the field incidents have also diverted the focus of the squad in England and Wales.
Dimuth Karunaratne and Co. must show intent upfront while the middle order consisting of Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya De Silva, must finally turn up at the World Cup and contribute to the team’s success.
Kusal Janith Perera remains the only positive for the Lankans while youngster Avishka Fernando is expected to replace labored Lahiru Thirimanne in the playing XI tomorrow.
Lasith Malinga is expected to be back in London to lead the Sri Lankan attack, while Nuwan Pradeep is recovering and will possibly be included in the team for the game against the Aussies.
The Oval deck is one of the most favourable pitches for Sri Lanka and two spinners will be the way to go with either Thisara Perera or Isuru Udana making way for leggie Jeffery Vandersay.
The Oval is expected to see some rain around the start of the match tomorrow and a delayed start can be expected.
The rest of the day is expected to be oscillating between sunny and cloudy weather with bowlers set to get some assistance from the overcast conditions.
The wicket at the Oval is expected to be dry with the ball coming on to the bat nicely.
The 11-day break could also give the Sri Lankans a fresh approach needed to reenergize their dithering World Cup campaign.
The ‘Kangaroos’ have a 60-32 lead over the ‘Lions’ in 92 completed ODIs but a win for Dimuth Karunaratne’s team today’s clash will be up with one of the most significant World Cup wins against the defending Cricket World Champions.
Prediction: Sri Lankans to outscore the Aussies in South London