ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Sri Lanka v Australia, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo

World Cup record favours Australia

Both teams are evenly matched in both batting and bowling, but it could just be Australia's big match temperament that proves crucial

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan

March 4, 2011

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting gets in position to dismiss the ball out of sight during his 140, Australia v India, World Cup final, Johannesburg, March 23, 2003
Ricky Ponting: aiming to become Australia's highest run getter against Sri Lanka in ODIs © Getty Images
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Australia's 31-match unbeaten run in World Cups will face its first big test of the tournament against the 2007 finalists Sri Lanka. Australia though, boast a winning record against Sri Lanka in ODIs overall and an even better record in World Cups, where they have suffered only two losses, including the forfeiture in 1996.

The only losses suffered by Australia against Sri Lanka in global tournaments have come in matches played in the subcontinent, with one of them coming in the 2002 Champions Trophy semi-final at the Premadasa stadium. Since 2000, Australia have won 19 matches to Sri Lanka's nine, but after the 2007 World Cup the record is a far more even 4-3. Sri Lanka, though have not done really well when it matters, losing to Australia twice in each of the previous two World Cups including the semi-final in 2003 and the final in 2007. They have however, not played in Sri Lanka since 2004, when they followed up their 3-0 Test series win with a 3-2 win in the ODI series.

Australia's all-round strength between 2000 and 2007 virtually ensured success in every competition. They have won the last three World Cups and the previous two Champions Trophy tournaments, including the 2006 tournament in India. Despite their slight discomfort against quality spin, they have been by far the best visiting team in the subcontinent. Their win-loss ratio of 2.83 in matches played in the subcontinent since 2006 is the best among all visiting teams, with only South Africa coming close. Sri Lanka though, will be confident after winning their first ever ODI series in Australia, when they triumphed 2-1 in the end of 2010.

Australia v Sri Lanka in ODIs
Played Won Lost W/L ratio
Overall 71 47 22 2.13
Matches since 2000 28 19 9 2.11
In Sri Lanka since 2000 6 3 3 1.00
In global tournaments* 9 6 3 2.00

The upcoming game is a contest between two of the top batting teams in ODIs since 2009. While South Africa and India have been the best teams in terms of batting average, Australia and Sri Lanka are not far behind. The only concern for Australia would be the conversion of fifties to centuries. They have only 17 hundreds and 108 fifties, a conversion ratio of over six. This is a lot higher when compared to the conversion ratio of other top teams (for India and South Africa, it is a little more than two).

Shane Watson has been Australia's best batsman over the last two years and has settled perfectly into the opener's role. He scored centuries in the semi-final and final of the Champions Trophy in 2009 and has started the World Cup with two half-centuries. His ability to attack both pace and spin and provide solid starts will be a huge plus in a contest between two evenly matched teams.

Ricky Ponting needs just 62 runs to surpass Adam Gilchrist and become Australia's highest run getter against Sri Lanka in ODIs. He has scored centuries in big matches against Sri Lanka in the past including the Super Six match in 2003 and in the VB series final in 2006, where he scored a superb 124 to boost Australia to 368 after they were struggling at 10 for 3.

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene have been the two most consistent batsmen for Sri Lanka in recent matches. Jayawardene rediscovered his form in big tournaments in the 2007 World Cup and has not looked back since. Dilshan and Upul Tharanga have combined to form a very consistent opening partnership and will be crucial to Sri Lanka'a chances. Kumar Sangakkara, who averages over 42 since the start of 2009 has scored 17 half-centuries in 50 matches but not a single century. He has looked in great touch in his first two matches with scores of 92 against Canada and 49 in the 11-run defeat against Pakistan.

Batting stats for Australian and Sri Lankan batsmen since start of 2009
Batsman Runs Average SR 100s 50s dismissals/RR (pace) dismissals/RR (spin)
Shane Watson 2231 46.47 88.42 4 14 32/5.60 15/4.58
Ricky Ponting 2009 39.39 81.20 3 15 31/5.07 18/4.47
Michael Clarke 1933 48.32 74.66 2 16 31/4.44 8/4.44
Cameron White 1755 39.00 79.23 2 11 29/4.91 14/4.48
Tillakaratne Dilshan 2097 51.14 100.09 7 7 30/6.34 10/5.39
Kumar Sangakara 1908 42.40 82.09 0 17 24/4.79 19/5.09
Upul Tharanga 1489 42.54 77.51 3 10 19/4.46 12/5.02
Mahela Jayawardene 1372 33.46 84.12 3 7 26/5.15 15/4.87

Mitchell Johnson, who has had a tremendous start to the World Cup with eight wickets in two matches, has been Australia's leading wicket taker in ODIs since the start of 2009. Watson and Brett Lee average under 25 and have been among the wickets. Shaun Tait, who made a big splash in the previous World Cup, has bowled with great pace in the first two matches and will be a huge threat on any surface.

Nuwan Kulasekara has been Sri Lanka's most consistent ODI bowler in the last two years and he, together with Lasith Malinga, provides a strong pace option. Malinga, who picked up his second hat-trick in World Cups, has bagged 11 wickets at 31.54 against Australia, a record he'll look to improve. Muttiah Muralitharan is Sri Lanka's leading wicket taker against Australia, but his worst ODI figures of 1 for 99 have also come against Australia. The lack of matches in recent years between the two sides has meant that Australia have not played Ajantha Mendis often which could turn out to be an important factor in this match.

Both teams have been extremely evenly matched in their batting and bowling display across an innings. While Sri Lanka have scored slightly better in the first 15 overs, Australia have averaged much better. Sri Lanka's higher run-rate can be attributed to playing more matches in the subcontinent. Australia have been the better bowling side in the first 15 overs and in the middle overs. While Sri Lanka's economy-rate is slightly better in the end overs, Australia's powerful middle order, which has scored at a run-rate of 7.50 in the last ten overs, could prove to be the difference.

Performance across the innings since start of 2009
Team Period (overs) Batting average Run rate Bowling average Economy rate Run rate difference
Australia 0-15 44.74 4.86 30.49 4.66 0.20
Sri Lanka 0-15 44.40 5.37 32.18 4.73 0.64
Australia 16-40 40.48 4.79 31.76 4.75 0.04
Sri lanka 16-40 36.68 4.84 32.30 4.92 -0.08
Austalia 41-50 25.35 7.50 17.57 6.88 0.62
Sri Lanka 41-50 20.61 7.12 22.37 6.79 0.33

Pakistan's win over Sri Lanka was yet another instance of the toss playing a vital role in the result. Since 2005, chasing teams have won only five matches and lost 20 out of the 26 played. The record in day-night games is even worse with chasing teams winning just three out of 21 played. On all these occasions, the team winning the toss has opted to bat first. While Australia have won two of the last three matches they have played at the venue, they will realise that winning the toss will be a huge bonus in this clash.


Comments: 7 
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Posted by Sethu on (March 5, 2011, 13:14 GMT)

This Australian team is really unpredictable.. So not sure. I would like Sri Lanka win, but...

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 5, 2011, 7:09 GMT)

100% sure Lio'sn will blast the Kangeroo........

Posted by Lalith on (March 5, 2011, 6:47 GMT)

I prefer SL to start bowling with a spinner to keep Aussies batters guessing. I prefer SL play 3 spinners, Malinga, Mathew, Perera & 5 batters. This is the battle of spinners Vs Fast men. If Aussies handle SL spinners well, they will win or if SL handles Aussies fast men well they will win. Cannot Wait, BRING OOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by shailesh on (March 5, 2011, 5:19 GMT)

I HOPE THE 31 match continuous win in WC goona be end today ??

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 5, 2011, 1:53 GMT)

this time Sri Lankans will win 4 sure

Posted by Nalin on (March 4, 2011, 22:05 GMT)

Very interesting match after Australia loosing for the first time to Sri Lanka in a one day tournament in Australia.Now there playing in Sri Lanka so looking forward to this game

Posted by John on (March 4, 2011, 20:31 GMT)

"slight discomfort" against quality spin? It's not that our boys aren't comfortable facing them. Most of them have no trouble defending and keeping their wicket intact against the spinners, nor do they have too much trouble trying to launch them out of the ground. Where they struggle is rotating the strike. Clarke and Ponting, however, are proven players of spin. The openers may struggle a bit, but providing they don't get out to them and set a stable platform, the lower-middle order can bash them around enough to make up for any slow start/middle overs.

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