Saturday 5 March 2011

Dance of the Titans?

Australia have looked ominous. Sri Lanka have looked like they are capable, and now they meet. The first match between two really good teams.

The Sri Lanka Pakistan was merely shadow boxing. Without Malinga and Mendis Sri Lanka lose one of the things that makes them what they are.

Here is my guide to things to look for in this match:

1. Ajantha Mendis. He has been one of the big stories of the last 4 years. When he burst onto the scene in 2008 everyone was talking about him. And yet he has never played an ODI against the Australians. We don't know if they will be able to read him or not. It's one thing to play him in a T20, where you don't have the luxury of time, but the decision making process for a batsman is different in an ODI, and we will finally get to see him in action. Interestingly his stats when bowling first and batsman don't have scoreboard pressure are much worse than when bowling second. so the toss may be vital to his success.

2. Michael Clarke. It was hard to watch or listen to any Australian sport show without hearing someone calling for Clarke to be dropped. Everyone was saying that he was so badly out of form that he shouldn't be there. There was even a teenage fan manage to get into a press conference and tell him so. Well the advice seems to have worked. In his last 5 matches, Clarke has averaged 109 at a strike rate over 90. That's not bad. And Sri Lanka are close behind Pakistan as his second favourite opponent. His form has returned at the right time, and now we get to see if it is truely good form, or just a statistical blip.

3. Captaincy. Ponting has been criticised for the way that he captains his teams, for being too conservative, and not attacking enough. During the last 5 years, Ponting has got less wickets per run out of his bowlers than any other player to have captained Australia other than Michael Hussey. Likewise Sangakkara has not been nearly effective at gaining wickets for his bowlers as Jayawardene was. However there is a significant difference. When things go wrong for Ponting, he tends to get more conservative. Sangakkara tends to get more unorthodox. It will be interesting to see what the pressure does here.

4. Batting First. The team that bats at Premadasa normally wins. More than 75% of matches over the last 5 years have been won by the team batting first. However, in day/night games the scores are almost even, so it will be interesting to see what happens near the end of the first innings. Which ever team finishes the first innings best is likely to go on and win the game. If you are someone into in-game betting it might be a good idea to back the underdog if it's at something like 2.50 at the 40th over. There is a high chance that it will change to their favor over the next 10-15 overs.

5. "Sri Lanka haven't lost until Angelo Mathews is out." Tony Grieg famously said, just before Mathews went on to single-handedly destroy Australia at their last meeting. Can he repeat the dose tonight?

Sneaky 20c bet: Michael Clarke to top score for Australia at $4.75

These are the things I'm watching for. What are you looking out for?

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