Australia v Sri Lanka, Group F, Cape Town September 19, 2007

High stakes in Cape Town knock-out

Australia v Sri Lanka, Cape Town, Thursday, September 20, 10.00 local time
(08.00 GMT)

Australia will be without Ricky Ponting for the virtual quarter-final against Sri Lanka © Getty Images

It's sudden death for Australia and Sri Lanka. In a rematch of the World Cup final the winners will move into the semi-finals and the losers will head out of the ICC World Twenty20. The teams come into the crunch match in different states of mind, Australia still struggling to accept the format after losing to Pakistan while Sri Lanka are buoyant after coming through against Bangladesh. Australia have also been hit by the injury to Ricky Ponting, who was ruled out for the rest of the tournament - however long that may be for his team.

Bat talk: With Ponting missing, there is a spot to fill for Australia and the favourite is Shane Watson, who recently recovered from a hamstring injury. It could mean a reshuffle in the order and Brad Hodge - who has been consistent - might get a promotion. "We have just got to get it right in one go," Andrew Symonds said.

Sri Lanka laboured to 147 against Bangladesh, but it proved more than enough and was a fine example of a batting side adjusting their sights. After an explosive start to them tournament Sanath Jayasuriya has had two lean matches, while Kumar Sangakkara hasn't displayed his best form.

Wrecking ball: Australia have stuck with four frontline fast bowlers and Stuart Clark has been the main success with eight wickets at 10 apiece and an economy rate of 5.37. Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken and Mitchell Johnson have also performed solidly, but the fifth bowler's quota, shared between Symonds and Michael Clarke, has been a weakness. The return of Watson would allow another fast bowling option to relieve the pressure.

Sri Lanka's experienced attack proved too much for Bangladesh at the Wanderers and even without Muttiah Muralitharan they are a handful. Dilhara Fernando has been impressive throughout with his mixture of slower balls and bouncers. "He's been superb with his changes of pace," the coach Trevor Bayliss said. "It's a bit of a surprise that he's been one of the better bowlers." Farveez Maharoof's introduction at the expense of Gayan Wijekoon has also strengthened the bowling.

Keep an eye on: Lasith Malinga. As he showed in the World Cup (with four wickets in four balls against South Africa) he can change a game in one over, about the same amount of time it takes him to change his hair style.

Shop talk: Symonds was confident the Australians could overcome the loss of Ponting: "You lose the best player in the world and it's going to leave a bit of a hole," he said, "but Shane Watson seems to have recovered very well from his hamstring injury and he played very well at the World Cup. Brad Hodge batted well [against Pakistan] and he has played quite a bit of Twenty20 so there are blokes who can handle the situation."

Despite a handsome victory, Bayliss admitted Sri Lanka's batting struggled in their previous Super Eights match. "We took a few of the wrong options," he said. "Even though it's only 20 overs it is all about partnerships." Fernando and Chaminda Vaas took it fairly easily in training at Newlands, but just as a precautionary measure.

Pitching it right: This is Sri Lanka's first visit to Cape Town in the tournament so they will have to adjust to a slower, lower surface but that should suit their game. Australia are used to conditions although the ground has had two days of solid sunshine which may change the surface a little and it is also the first 10am start at Newlands.


Australia (probable) Adam Gilchrist (capt, wk), Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Andrew Symonds, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark.

Sri Lanka (probable) Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Jehan Mubarak, Faveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo