Sri Lanka hopeful of beating injury woes
Mahela Jayawardene is hopeful that Angelo Mathews and Farveez Maharoof will be fit for Sunday's first final against Australia, but Thisara Perera's chances of playing are less certain. Sri Lanka qualified for the best-of-three finals series thanks to their nine-run win over Australia at the MCG, a victory that was all the more impressive because they lost both Perera and Mathews during Australia's chase.
Perera went off with a back problem after bowling only five deliveries and Mathews sent down four overs before he was forced off with a calf injury, which left Jayawardene juggling part-timers to make up the overs. They were already without Maharoof due to a back complaint, and the medical staff will need to work quickly to assess the three men with only one day off before the first final in Brisbane.
"Hopefully Angelo is not too serious," Jayawardene. "He bowled and then went off with a slight strain. Hopefully he should be okay. Thisara, I'm not sure exactly how bad the situation is. Maharoof, they're saying he can probably play in the first final. If not we'll have to try to see the flight details and bring a couple of guys to Brisbane.
"We're not sure if [Perera's injury] is muscle or something worse, we need to get an MRI and see that. Maharoof had a facet joint problem in the back. He had an injection a couple of days ago and he looks pretty good, but he hasn't bowled yet so we need to see how he bowls and whether he feels good in Brisbane."
Sri Lanka had to win at the MCG to qualify for the finals and it was to their credit that they did not lose heart as the injuries mounted and as David Hussey dragged Australia into a winning position. Jayawardene was full of praise for his attack, especially Lasith Malinga, who collected 4 for 49 and made up for giving away nearly a hundred runs in Tuesday's loss to India in Hobart.
"He's a class act and he's got a lot of confidence in him," Jayawardene said. "He doesn't leave anything out there, he gives everything. That day it wasn't quite enough, Virat [Kohli] had a great knock. Today he came back strongly, and not just him - Nuwan [Kulasekara], Rangana [Herath], everybody. Especially when we had two bowlers down the guys that were there picked themselves up and created opportunities. I can't praise them enough for their effort."
Sri Lanka will enter the finals knowing they have beaten Australia in their past three encounters, and confident that they can continue their good form. Sri Lanka won the last one-day series they played in Australia, a bilateral three-match series in 2010-11, but if they are triumphant in this tournament it would be their first tri-series title in Australia.
"We've played some really good cricket," Jayawardene said. "We just need to continue to do that. But it's a best of three finals. I'm sure the Australians will come really hard at us. We just have to make sure that we play the kind of cricket we've been playing and try to improve on that."
Edited by Siddarth Ravindran
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here