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With rain in the air, calculators at the ready at The Oval

A win for Sri Lanka will guarantee it a semi-final spot, but rain could spoil the fun yet again

With rain in the air, calculators at the ready at The Oval - Cricket News
So far, Australia has one point, while Sri Lanka has two points on the Group A table.
When Australia and Sri Lanka face off in the final league match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 at The Oval on Monday (June 17), they will do so with the knowledge that nothing short of a win will be enough to give them a chance of making the semi-finals.
A measure of how the win has to be achieved will depend on the outcome of the England-New Zealand clash on Sunday, but win they must. So far, Australia has a solitary point, while Sri Lanka has two, and the net run-rate is in the red for both of them.
Sri Lanka has the more straightforward task – all it needs to do is win and it will be in the semi-finals. Australia’s best-case scenario involves a New Zealand win on Sunday and a victory for Australia on Monday. If, however, England beats New Zealand, Australia will hope that the margin of victory is big for England, and then Australia must win big too against Sri Lanka.
All those calculations, though, could come to nought if the weather has a say. At the time of writing this, the match between England and New Zealand hasn’t started and a shortened game, if that, looks likely. If points are split, New Zealand would be the happiest, as it would sit pretty with four points. Meanwhile, not to forget, rain is forecast for the morrow as well.
If, however, the weather holds off for long enough to get a full match on Monday, Australia is likely to feel the absence of David Warner, suspended for his altercation with Joe Root, though it will be buoyed by the likely availability of Michael Clarke. George Bailey, who has led Australia in Clarke’s absence, said, “I know I've said it every game, but I'm hopeful for the next game – this time we're certainly looking like we're having him (Clarke) for Monday. I'm pretty anxious for Pup to come back.”
Australia might have been a trifle disappointed that its match against New Zealand ended with points split. Though Australia struggled for a large part of their innings, a late rally took the score to a competitive 243 for 8 and the bowlers then had New Zealand struggling at 51 for 2 in 15 overs before play was called off. But that match apart, Australia has hardly been impressive in recent times. It was thrashed by India in the warm-up game and beaten convincingly by England in the first match. Australia will clearly need inspiration – perhaps in the form of Clarke’s return – to keep its hopes of a successful title defence alive.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, is riding high after the Kumar Sangakkara-inspired chase against England at the same ground, and should count itself as the favourite for this match. It lost a nervy match against New Zealand by the narrowest of margins, and not many gave it a chance after England had piled up 293 for 7, but Sangakkara’s 134 not out made a steep chase appear almost routine.
What will please the Sri Lankans equally was the form shown by the batsmen around Sangakkara. Tillakaratne Dilshan contributed at the top, Mahela Jayawardena was fluent, and Nuwan Kulasekara, promoted to No. 5 in a surprise move, smashed an unbeaten 38-ball 58. Kulasekara had been brought in for Thisara Perera for his greater bowling pedigree, and he showed that he had done only half his job after an economical performance with the ball.
Lasith Malinga was expensive against England, but Sri Lanka will continue to rely on him for the key strikes. Malinga wasn’t as lethal as expected in the Indian Premier League this time, though still among the best bowlers in the tournament, but he nearly pulled off a heist single-handedly against New Zealand in the opening match.
Both sides have played each other plenty of times in the past two years, and the results are dead even. Each has won eight games with one no result in 17 matches since June 2011. Therefore, not much is likely to come as a surprise for either side.
Teams (from)
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade (wk), Shane Watson.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardena, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sachithra Senanayake, Lahiru Thirimanne.

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