Australia v Sri Lanka
Thursday October 28th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Australia make hard work of opening win
In football you should never write off the Germans while Australia are their cricketing equivalent. Just because they have yet to win the T20 World Cup, it doesn't mean that Aaron Finch's side should be discounted while all the talk surrounds England and India.
The Aussies won their opening match against South Africa although they left it until the final over to eventually chase down a subpar target of 119.
With Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa sharing six wickets, there are few concerns in the bowling unit but what about the batting? Steve Smith anchored his side's run chase on Saturday but there might be concerns over his strike rate, while the rest of the top order simply need an improvement on their collective performances.
Sri Lanka under the radar?
Sri Lanka will be given little chance in this game but they have impressed as a unit up to this point. Dasun Shanaka's side have won all four of their opening matches and their 172/5 against Bangladesh is the highest successful run chase in the competition to date.
I mentioned ahead of that match that this is a side with good balance and they could yet cause an upset in the strongest section of the Super 12s. In that win over Bangladesh, Sri Lanka proved that they have good depth in their batting with Bhanuka Rajapaksa making a vital 53 at number 6.
The bowling attack that had impressed so much during the group stages was put under more pressure but I still like the balance, with some genuine pace complimenting the spinners.
Scores build in Dubai
After opening this section with 55 against England, West Indies lifted the average first innings score at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium with 143 against South Africa on Tuesday. It still wasn't enough to secure a win and we saw in the recent IPL that totals of around 160-165 on this surface were just about defendable.
All four games in this section to date have gone to the chasing side and that's been the trend since this tournament began. It will be another day to win the toss and insert and whoever takes first knock will need to push to 160+ on these sluggish surfaces.
There are no shocks in the result betting: Australia are some way ahead at 1.454/9 with Sri Lanka behind at 3.1511/5. There's a lot of things I like about this Australian side and that's a tough thing for me to say. The batting has a good mix of biffers and patient accumulators, although Steve Smith can take the pedestrianism a little too far at times.
With Marcus Stoinis at six and Matthew Wade at seven, there is batting depth which proved crucial in that tight win over South Africa. The bowling unit shows that pace, hostility and a little swing can still work on any surface.
The toss could be important and I suspect Sri Lanka are better than they're being given credit for but, based on that grudging assessment, I'd have to take two points on Australia.
If there is a concern among that Australian XI, it's the top order where David Warner has carried over his struggles from the IPL. With Aaron Finch making a duck and Mitchell Marsh not a convincing choice at number three, there are issues to address.
What that does leave is an opportunity for the lower middle order to provide some good returns in the Top Batsman markets and I'm taking Glenn Maxwell here. I've never been convinced by the 'big show' but he displayed rare consistency in the IPL and may be finally maturing as a batter.
Warner will come good eventually but will look a little short at 3.412/5 while Finch at around 3.55/2 and Steve Smith at 4.03/1 or higher, are other alternatives. If you can get Maxwell at 5.04/1, it's a strong option by comparison.
I'm staying with two picks for this game but, if my theory on the match were to go wrong, Sri Lanka at a tempting 2.8415/8 in the Most Sixes market could step in to compensate.
The price would be shorter if the likes of Thisara Perera and a fit Angelo Mathews were in the line up, but there are some power hitters in the side and that's an excellent price if their opponents fail with the bat. Australia are favourites here at 1.758/11 while the tie is available at 6.411/2.
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