Australia v Sri Lanka
Sunday March 8, 03:30 GMT
Live on Sky Sports World Cup
Wednesday's 275 run win over Afghanistan was predictable enough and the only real significance from Australia's point of view was the return to form of a number of key batters. Having sat and watched the rain fall in Brisbane, Australia's top order failed against New Zealand before David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell pummelled their way back into touch against a weak Afghan attack.
It would be right to question Michael Clarke's fitness as he dropped himself down the order and neglected the chance to fill his own batting boots last time out and against Sri Lanka there will be nowhere for the skipper to hide. Clearly this is a tougher test but Mitchell Starc was another man to benefit from Wednesday's huge win and with the possible exception of Clarke, this has suddenly become an in-form unit once again.
My assessment of Sri Lanka over the last few years is almost in a copy and paste format. A team that relies too heavily on three batsmen to dig themselves out of trouble while the rest of the order fail to take responsibility. Dilshan, Sangakkara and Jayawardene have all made vital runs in this tournament but at least there has been support, most notably from Lahiru Thirimanne, who enjoyed himself against England's club bowling attack.
It's not a huge issue when you rely on three of the greatest batters in the history of one day cricket but there are concerns elsewhere. Lasith Malinga is starting to prove expensive but not as expensive as Suranga Lakmal whose two beamers to Jos Buttler prevented further damage to figures of 1-71 from 7.4. Sri Lanka can match Australia in the batting department but another poor bowling display would be the key to failure on Sunday.
Venue and Conditions
Against a familiar bowling attack, South Africa continued to take advantage of the West Indies as they passed 400 in the only game to be played at the SCG so far in this tournament. That total does indicate that this could be a fast scorer but with two stronger bowling units on show, a maximum first innings target of 350 seems more likely.
Rain continues to flirt with this competition but the forecasters predict just minimal cloud cover and a perfect day for getting runs on the board.
You get no reward for predicting Australia as favourites but it may be surprising to see the margin of the gap in this market. Clarke's men are currently quoted at 1.330/100 to claim the points with Sri Lanka, the outside punt at 4.216/5.
That earlier loss to New Zealand shows that Australia aren't invincible but you have to factor into account the Kiwis' home form and Sri Lanka's struggles on the road. I feel this game will be won by Australia's batters taking advantage of their opponents' attack which lacks a Vaas and a Murali but even so, 1.330/100 is a little too short for comfort.
Top Sri Lanka Batsman
If, like me, you had backed Kumar Sangakkara for the first four games of this tournament then you'd feel slightly miffed that the left hander had scored two centuries in his last two outings but had failed to deliver a profit.
Bigger scores from Dilshan, who is quoted here at 4.77/2 and Thirimanne at 5.14/1 make them contenders for Sunday along with Jayawardene at 5.14/1 and Mathews at 7.06/1 but having come so close, Kumar is in top nick and hunting down the tournament top batsman slot and I can't drop him from my online betting slip at this stage.
Century in Match
It's fairly typical that, having made consistent profits in this market for ODIs across the world, it would start to let me down as soon as I urged everyone else to get involved. Two games in Pool B - India v West Indies and Pakistan v South Africa have produced a top score of 77 when it seemed certain that several batters would be going through the three figure mark.
Surely, surely it will come in here with two of the strongest line ups in the competition. Odds currently stand at 1.768/11.
Back Kumar Sangakkara to top score for Sri Lanka at 4.03/1.