Sri Lanka have faced defeats in their first two matches and also lost their captain Dasun Shanaka following an injury. They will now be led by vice-captain Kusal Mendis and will hope that a change in leadership will also lead to change in fortunes. Australia, too, have had their worst-ever start.
When the two fledgling teams clash at the Ekana Stadium on Monday, both will be fighting to revive their respective campaigns.
Australia, the five-time champions, sit ninth in the 10-team league table with a horrendous net run-rate (-1.846), while the Lankans are seventh on the table with an NRR of -1.161.
The relaid pitch gives hope that the contest will be interesting. In their opening game, Sri Lanka were crushed by Proteas, who notched up a World Cup record total. In their second game, Lanka posted an impressive 344-9 in Hyderabad but Pakistan’s top order batter Abdullah Shafique and wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan chased down the record target.
Sri Lanka’s wicketkeeper-batter Kusal Perera had a bad start. Their top-order batter Panthum Nissanka also did not do well in the first match against South Africa, though he scored a half-century against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka’s relatively inexperienced bowling attack has conceded a whopping 775 runs in their first two matches.
Australia will also try their best to avoid their third consecutive defeat. Josh Hazlewood claimed three wickets in the opening game against India (Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer), but against Proteas he looked ineffective while claiming just one wicket—of Heinrich Klaasen.
Aussie batting allrounder Marcus Stoinis has also not yet been able to capitalize on his experience of playing at Ekana Stadium.
Australian captain Pat Cummins said, “The wicket is hard to read. Sometimes, it looks flat and ends up spinning. You just have to adapt on the fly sometimes.”