Ed Hawkins reckons the Sri Lankans should prove too hot to handle for Michael Clarke's sorry bunch at The Oval on Monday in what is effectively a quarter-final
"Sri Lanka's batting is different gravy compared to Australia"
Sri Lanka at [1.97]
Australia v Sri Lanka
Start time: 13.00BST
TV: live on Sky Sports
The Aussies are in a dreadful state. And it is all of their own making. Just as ill-discipline derailed their tour of India, bad behaviour is again costing them dear. David Warner's physical atttack on Joe Root, the England player, in a Birmingham bar, was cowardly and should have warranted instant dismissal. That it did not tells us two things. One, Australia have a weak dressing room which fails to instil the rules and regulations. This also leads to team plans not being effected on the field. Secondly, that they need Warner because his batting talent is so important. That largely relates to the Ashes as he has banned for three weeks but make no mistake, they are now weeping with the willow. Still, Australia will hope Michael Clarke recovers from a back injury which has kept him out of the tournament so far. They need him more than ever.
It is fair to say that Sri Lanka have regularly struggled in English conditions but The Oval has always been a home from home for them. Of their last seven matches in all formats in Kennington they have won five. The latest - a seven-wicket stroll against England - was a classy performance which put the disappointment of a classic 'non-Oval' Sri Lanka performance on these shores behind them when they were skittled by New Zealand. Their gun players are performing. Kumar Sangakkara's brilliant century against England was ominous for Australia's bowlers, as were supporting roles by Mahela Jaywardene and captain Angelo Mathews. Shaminda Eranga could be a doubt after he lost his radar with the ball, proving expensive. Thisara Perrera and Jeevan Mendis are potential replacements.
England bucked the bowler-friendly Champions Trophy trend at The Oval when they posted 293 against Sri Lanka. Previosly South Africa (in a warm-up) had managed only 202 against Pakistan, who in turn scored 170 against West Indies, who in turn scrambled to 233 against India. Each of the sides batting first have lost. That suggests a wicket which keeps getting better. More than 260 looks very much on here if rain, which is forecast, stays away. You might get around [1.80].
This is essentially a quarter-final and Sri lanka have every reason to feel confident. In the last 10 ODIs meetings - all in Australia - Sri Lanka have won six. They drew an ODI series 2-2 earlier this year, and would have claimed the spoils in the fourth ODI in Sydney before rain halted proceedings. And they sound confident, too. Jaywardene said: "I think in the last two years or so we've been very consistent against Australia and we've played them very well. We managed to handle a lot of situations better than them, so hopefully we can continue that." The market can barely split the pair with Australia at [2.02] and Sri lanka [1.97}. We can. We make Sri Lanka hot favourites. Their batting is different gravy compared to Australia and no matter what they post if they bat first, Sangakkara and co will back themselves to chase it. Likewise if Sri lanka bat first, it could well be over at half-time. Any wet weather also helps Sri lanka as in a overs-reduced affair it all comes down to hitting power. It is true that Australia were our pick for glory before a ball was bowled but that call looks wrong and we have no hesitation in abandoning them. Renowned Twitter tipster, Salman Victor, however, reckons Sri Lanka will falter.
Top Australia batsman
Shane Watson, one suspects, is feeling sorry for himself. There are claims he 'shopped' Warner and expected his opening partner to be sent home for his breach of discipline. Indeed it is claimed he is furious Warner wasn't jettisoned and has complained of double standards when he was forced to return from the India Test tour because of a breach of rules. If he gets his head right he should do well at The Oval where he has a fanatstic record. In List A matches he averages a whopping 71. He is skinny at [3.65], though. Clarke is around [4.00].
Top Sri Lanka batsman
Sangakkara is all the rage at [3.45] and that has inflated Jaywardene's price to [4.80]. That looks pretty decent given the way he was striking the ball against England.
Sri Lanka at [1.97]