Australia v Sri Lanka
Sunday 20 February, 06:10
TV: live on BT Sport
Australia enjoyed another romp of a victory in game four on Friday. They are now 4-0 up and will reckon they are the bees-knees.
Yet they are not immune from criticism. It is ironic that the world champions in this format (thanks to a toss bias in the UAE), appear not to have a clue about how best to make use of their resources.
Which other team in the world, when boasting such batting talent, would choose Ashton Agar to open the batting? They could have gone with Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Marcus Stoinis or, of course, Aaron Finch.
It is particularly harsh on Inglis, who should be one of the first names on the team sheet as Ben McDermott's partner. Perhaps his 20-ball 40 was a message of some kind. Could it be that Agar is keeping the seat warm for a certain David Warner?
Possible XI: Agar, McDermott, Finch, Maxwell, Inglis, Stoinis, Wade, Sams, J Richardson, K Richardson, Zampa.
Tourists need to change
Sri Lanka were not expected to challenge seriously for the series. But it has been perhaps surprising how insipid their approach and tactics have been.
They are well aware there is a gulf of talent between them and Australia. So instead of sitting down and working out how best to avoid that chasm swallowing them up, they've turned up with a meek and mild approach to their batting. A survival-first attitude.
They have to change. Setting their stall out to try to make 150 is no good. They have to show intent and look for 180 or more. It is the only way to stave off certain defeat.
Probable XI: Nissanka, Gunathilaka, Kusal, Asalanka, Shanaka, Chandimal, Karunaratne, Chameera, Theekshana, Vandersay.
We think the 'G is a decent pitch to bat on. But when the Lankans get first use it is hard to tell. Only one player (Karunaratne) struck at more than 130 in their miserable score of 139.
A clue is how Australia fared. They looked capable of 170 or more. But we have to be cautious as a small chase reduces pressure and allows players to strike with freedom. It is, though, worth remembering the late flurry of runs in the Bash at the tailend of the season when 180 or more in the first dig was busted in three consecutive games.
Glenn Maxwell, of course, smashed a record-breaking ton in a record-breaking total for Stars against Hobart. From the opening position. But Australia have forgotten that.
Too many maybes
This is a hospital pass of a betting preview. Injuries could be sustained from bashing your head against a brick wall trying to find the value.
There are too many ifs, buts and maybes when the only option is a consideration of Sri Lanka at 6.005/1. If they bat first and completely change their attitude? But what if Kusal fires? Maybe their bowlers can put on a squeeze?
The 7/1 gamble on Ashton Agar in game four did not pay off. We backed him because we thought he would open again. He did. It's one thing spotting the wrong price but at the end of the day the guy has to have the ability to win the market. And Agar came up short.
Sportsbook have only cut him to 5s, which tells you something. Such experiments rarely work out as winners. Look at Sunil Narine's sub-10% win rate in the market.
If Australia want to try someone else in the slot, Daniel Sams at 40/1 and Matthew Wade at 14s are not the worst shouts. Bet them here..Sams has batted up the order for Sydney Thunder and is probably the smarter option if they insistent on an Agar-style selection.
For Sri Lanka, we'll persist with Dushmantha Chameera at 7/2 for most wickets. If Wanindu Hasarabga was not laid low with Covid, Chameera would be the same price. He bowls at the death and has some nip about him. Bet on Sportsbook markets here..