More than a month later, though, we have had an entertaining triangular series, which has stretched the two remaining teams to their last possible sinew. Two new balls, the new Powerplay regulations, the new strictness against runners and substitutes, a little bit of spice on the pitches, the physical demands of playing on big and soft outfields, have all worked a treat too. The only disappointment has been the occasional low attendance.
Fittingly, it’s Sri Lanka and Australia, the fitter sides who have played better cricket, who are the last teams standing. Australia extended their domination of India, and Sri Lanka showed they enjoyed being here – they have enjoyed their cricket, they have fought longer and harder. Battles are to be seen on both sides.
Sri Lanka have lost Thisara Perera, and Farveez Maharoof and Angelo Mathews are struggling with a sore back and calf respectively. Added to that are a few bandaged hands in the side. Australia have had to reshape their bowling almost completely during this tournament. Michael Clarke has done two hamstrings to add to his back trouble, ruling him out of this match and, potentially, the ODIs in the West Indies too. David Warner is fighting a groin strain. Brett Lee is playing despite a broken foot. The two sides are staggering every bit like heavyweights in the last round of a bout, but are desperate not to end up on the losing side. Expect them to bring their best – whatever is left available to them – to this one final night.
Australia LWLWL (Most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLWLW
In the spotlight
With his performance on Tuesday, Tillakaratne Dilshan became only the second player in ODI history to open both the bowling and batting, finish his quota of 10 overs, and then score a century too. Sri Lanka won’t mind an encore.
Matthew Wade‘s keeping has come under severe pressure towards the end of the tournament, with dropped catches to his credit in both the finals. With the bat, though, he has provided two good starts, taking the pressure off Warner, letting him settle into long innings. Wade continues to enjoy the trust of the captain, but if he does get another start with the bat he will dearly love to make it count in a bigger way.
After the second final, Clarke said Warner was fully fit otherwise they wouldn’t have played him. Warner responded with a century, and on that evidence should be available for the third final. With Clarke ruled out, Shane Watson will captain and Peter Forrest should slot back in to the middle order. George Bailey has also been called up as a contingency.
The bowling on slower surfaces remains a big worry for Australia, and they have called up local boy Nathan Lyon, who bowled a good spell in the domestic one-day competition final at the same venue about a week ago. James Pattinson is unavailable for the third final due to a glute strain. It remains to be seen if Lyon or Ben Hilfenhaus replaces him.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Matthew Wade (wk), 3 Shane Watson (capt), 4 Peter Forrest, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 David Hussey, 7 Daniel Christian, 8 Brett Lee, 9 Nathan Lyon/Ben Hilfenhaus, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty.
Angelo Mathews is still recovering from a calf injury, and Sri Lanka will leave the decision to play him or not open till the last minute. However, captain Mahela Jayawardene said the decision will not be an emotional one, and that he will be picked only if he is 100% fit. If Mathews does recover in time, he will bring more balance to a side that relied on Dilshan to bowl the fifth bowler’s quote on Tuesday night.
Lasith Malinga struggled with his groin towards the end of his spell on Tuesday, but he came back to bowl another over, the last one, and should be available pending a fitness test.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Upul Tharanga, 7 Chamara Kapugedara/Angelo Mathews, 8 Farveez Maharoof, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Rangana Herath.
Pitch and conditions
The heat in Adelaide has relented, but the pitch remains slow and should behave as it did on Tuesday, if not even slower. Expect another gruelling match.
Stats and trivia
- On the three previous occasions since 1990 that the third final has been required, Australia have always won, twice against South Africa (1993-94 and 1997-98) and once against Sri Lanka (2005-06).
- Sri Lanka’s win over Australia on Tuesday, with 34 balls to spare, was the most comfortable chase of a 270-plus total in all ODIs against Australia.
- Warner is the only batsman to have scored two centuries in the finals series in Australia. Dilshan stands a chance to emulate him.