Adelaide: Just a step away from clinching the title, Australia will be hoping to seal the issue tomorrow itself when they take on a spirited Sri Lanka in the second match of the best-of-three finals of the cricket tri-series.
Australia took a giant step towards winning Commonwealth Bank trophy when they defeated Sri Lanka by 15 runs in the high-scoring and thrilling first final of the tri-series at Brisbane yesterday.
And the hosts would be keen to keep the momentum going and wrap up the series tomorrow itself, but for that too happen the home team would want a more disciplined performance from its bowlers who cut a sorry figure yesterday against the Sri Lankan lower-middle order and tail-enders.
After posting 321 for six, largely built around David Warner`s career-best 163, the hosts got a scare with Nuwan Kulasekara (73) coming up with a blistering counter attacking innings and Sri Lankan tailenders producing some lusty hits before they fell short by 15 runs.
Even though they are 1-0 up in the three-game final, Australia will need to do some soul searching ahead of tomorrow`s match with skipper Michael Clarke too admitting that his bowlers continued to struggle in powerplay and death overs.
"Powerplay and death overs (bowling) have been an issue with us throughout. They (bowlers) are showing enough variations in the nets. But under pressure they are not able to execute it. We have to be better than that for we are the number one ranked team of the world," a peeved Clarke had said after yesterday`s match.
Clarke is puzzled about the fact that the Australian bowlers, who show enough variety in the nets, lose their marbles once the opposition batsmen pile up pressure.
Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson, two men around whom Australia`s success in the Test series was built over India this summer, together went for 95 runs in nine overs last night.
Australia have tried virtually every single quality fast bowler available in the present series but none of them, be it Brett Lee, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc or for that matter Hilfenhaus and Pattinson, have bowled economically. All of them have been belted for an average of five and a half runs per over by the rival batsmen.
On the contrary, left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty has been impressive all throughout the series, conceding runs at 4.18 per over for his nine wickets.
Shane Watson (5 wickets at 3.28 economy), Clint McKay (10 at 4.78) and David Hussey (4 at 4.86) are proof that brawn alone is no recipe for success in ODI cricket.
Going into the game, Australia will also be worried about the fitness of its opener David Warner, who strained his groin during his mammoth knock of 163 last night and is unlikely to be available tomorrow.
Warner`s injury will open the door for Peter Forrest, who has been decent with the bat, scoring 247 runs in six innings at 41.16 including a century.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have been almost ruthless in exploiting Australia`s grey areas in this series.
To Sri Lanka`s advantage, both the openers, captain Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, have adopted attacking approach in the early overs and it paid dividends on most occasions.
Young star Dinesh Chandimal has been rock solid in the middle-order and has adopted the role of an anchor with perfection.
The aggressive Sri Lankan lower middle-order has flummoxed the Australian bowlers on numerous occasions in the tri-series and they would look to continue the same in the remaining games.
Sri Lanka have flown in Chamara Kapugedara as a back up for Thisara Perera, who has returned home due to a back injury which would keep him on the bench for at least six weeks.
The islanders are also hoping Angelo Mathews to be fit for tomorrow`s final as the team relies heavily on the all-rounder to deliver the goods at crunch situations.
Jayawardene and his men would back themselves to do well on a batting-friendly Adelaide pitch, which could play into the hands of the visitors.
The Lankans would also be hoping that Lasith Malinga reserves his best for tomorrow. The pacer has been off target in two of the last three matches, conceding 96 and 74 against India and Australia in a space of a week.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Dhammika Prasad, Ferveez Maharoof and Upul Tharanga.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Matthew Wade, Shane Watson, Peter Forrest, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Dan Christian, Xavier Doherty, Brett Lee, Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson.
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pak) and Bruce Oxenford (Aus)
Third umpire: Paul Reiffel (Aus)
Match referee: Chris Broad (Eng)
The match will start at 8.50 am (IST).
First Published: Monday, March 05, 2012, 13:07