Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Adam Collins (Australia innings) Jonathan Howcroft (Sri Lanka innings)

Australia beat Sri Lanka by five wickets: Cricket World Cup 2023 – as it happened

Australia’s Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka ‘s Dhananjaya in front of empty seats.
Australia’s Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka ‘s Dhananjaya in front of empty seats. Photograph: Prakash Singh/Shutterstock

Righto, that’s me done. Thanks for your company, great to be with you throughout this World Cup. Australia back in the hunt, that’s more fun. Bye!

Adam Zampa is player of the match for his 4fa

He reveals off the top that he came into this game with a back spasm. “Personally, I’ve not been at my best and felt like in the last game I could’ve bowled better and I haven’t been taking wickets to make it easier for the death guys. But it’s nice to be on the better side of the result tonight.” Says it took him a while to get into the game again today but the important piece for him is staying in a wicket-taking mindset. “Same role next game. It’s a big game against Pakistan at Bangalore, but it’s the same for me: take wickets.”

To think where Australia were at with Sri Lanka 125-0. For about an hour there, it felt like this was going to be one of the great misadventures. But showing how volatile tournament play can be, a collapse of 10/84 got them going and they were never going to let it slip in the chase, even after a wobble.

AUSTRALIA WIN BY 5 WKTS (88 balls to spare)

Stoinis DOES finish it with a SIX! He makes room to launch Wellalage over long-on – job done. Australia on the board, in some style, and with a decent chunk of Net Run Rate damage undone in the process. Relief for Cummins and co.

35.2 overs: Australia 215-5 (Maxwell 31, Stoinis 14) Target 210.

Stoinis hits a six to win.
Stoinis hits a six to win. Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
Stoinis and Maxwell congratulate each other after wining against Sri Lanka by 5 wickets.
Stoinis and Maxwell congratulate each other after wining against Sri Lanka by 5 wickets. Photograph: Aijaz Rahi/AP


35th over: Australia 209-5 (Maxwell 31, Stoinis 14) Target 210. They’re keen to finish it this over, that’s easy to tell, but they can’t quite get Madushanka away – scores are level, with Stoinis back on strike to start the next over. There’s a whole bit here about why it is important to hit a four or a six in this situation if looking to properly max out on Net Run Rate, but I’ll spare you that.

34th over: Australia 202-5 (Maxwell 29, Stoinis 10) Target 210. Bang! Stoinis gets down low first ball and smashes his sweep, over midwicket for four, smashing into the advertising boards. A couple more with the spin to deep cover – that leaves 12 to win. He goes back to the sweep and misses, prompting a leg before shout, but he’s outside the line – no review. Oh and a beautiful shot again from the all-rounder to finish, using the crease to perfection, cutting behind point. He’s into double figures in a hurry, this game isn’t far from done – eight to win.

WICKET! Inglis c Theekshana b Wellalage 58 (59). Australia 192-5

We’ve seen Wellalage bowl some beautifully flighted deliveries tonight and this is another, Inglis picking the wrong one to throw his hands at, the ball floating to backward point where his spin twin takes it after a juggle. If you want to dare to dream as a Sri Lankan fan, they need 5/17 from here to win, which is roughly what they lost when batting earlier today to complete that collapse…

Theekshana takes the catch on second attempt.
Theekshana takes the catch on second attempt. Photograph: Aijaz Rahi/AP


33rd over: Australia 192-4 (Inglis 58, Maxwell 29) Target 210. Oh dear – Kumara not having a good time of it down at third man, electing not to run in and catch an Inglis ball that flew down to him, saving the runs instead. A couple of Maxwell swings/misses – Madushanka has done really well tonight.

32nd over: Australia 189-4 (Inglis 56, Maxwell 28) Target 210. Huge from Maxwell, making room to mow over midwicket, picking Theekshaka’s googly… SIX runs. He’s scored off five balls thus far – all boundaries. Love to see it. And again to finish, over backward square with a sweep that just carries the journey for a second SIX in the over. 21 runs to win with drinks on the field.

31st over: Australia 176-4 (Inglis 55, Maxwell 16) Target 210. Madushanka, who has been brilliant tonight, goes again. Ooh, and he nearly gets a chance off Maxwell – a top edge that goes over the keepers’ head… it should be cut off but Kumara puts in half an effort at best. Sunny G on TV piles into him for it. “This is meant to be a World Cup!” Nice spray. Far more convincing from Maxwell later in the over when the full ball comes, making room and getting down low to slap him in Maxwellian fashion back over his head for four – raw power. And again! Four more, clearing the front leg to go over midwicket this time – he’s dealing exclusively in boundaries tonight as they try and finish this quickly.

30th over: Australia 163-4 (Inglis 54, Maxwell 4) Target 210. Thick edge, four. Maxwell did open the face of the blade to give him the angle behind point and that’s where it went. Ooh, googly to follow and Maxwell tries to pull it away but only gets a small, but necessary, under edge on it. 47 to win in 20 overs.

29th over: Australia 158-4 (Inglis 53, Maxwell 0) Target 210. One ball the new man to deal with here and it’s a sharp bouncer, ducked accordingly. On Maxwell, he’s been shuffled from five to six with Inglis’ introduction - partly, I assume, to free him up to do his best work in the pursuit of quick runs at the end of innings. That’s all this is from here and could help to give him a nice boost of confidence after a tough day against South Africa in particular.

WICKET! Labuschagne c Karunaratne b Madushanka 40 (60) Australia 158-4

Madushanka is back and whaddayaknow? He has three. Labuschagne can’t get on top of the bounce of the slower ball he’s trying to pull and places it straight to midwicket. In terms of the NRR chat, this is a good result for Australia with 52 to get and Maxwell/Stoinis to come. Nice stand with Inglis there, worth 77.

28th over: Australia 157-3 (Labuschagne 40, Inglis 52) Target 210. Shot! Labuschagne has done little of note in this innings but he has played his role, especially early on when Madushanka had it on a string. His second boundary, a perfectly placed pull shot here, takes him into the 40s. Given it is unclear who will make way when Head returns, this is not at all for nothing. Said a month ago that it was going to end up Smith v Labuschagne and it probably will.

Inglis to 52 from 46 balls!

27th over: Australia 153-3 (Labuschagne 36, Inglis 52) Target 210. What a lovely cricket shot to get there too, nailing a classical off-drive to the rope – his fifth four. I mentioned earlier that it might become unclear where Inglis fits as Carey’s replacement if he misses out here, well, he’s set up a decent run now.

26th over: Australia 146-3 (Labuschagne 35, Inglis 46) Target 210. This pair have now put on 65 in 69 balls, including five off Dhananjaya here. Coming together when Marsh was run out, this is just what they needed. But the 64 left to go, they’ll want to do that in 40-odd balls to have this knocked off by over 33.

25th over: Australia 141-3 (Labuschagne 31, Inglis 45) Target 210. Now Australia are! In the final over before halfway, it is their biggest over since the first in this chase – 14 off it including a massive hooked SIX from Inglis to finish up against the pace of the reintroduced Kumara, into the crowd (to the extent there is one) at backward square. Earlier in the over, the West Australian played a clever late cut wide of short third for the first four in a while. The NRR gallop is now on!

24th over: Australia 122-3 (Labuschagne 30, Inglis 27) Target 210. Clever from Inglis, getting Dhananjaya very fine past the ‘keeper, running away for three. Australia aren’t dealing in boundaries but Sri Lanka aren’t taking wickets.

23rd over: Australia 122-3 (Labuschagne 30, Inglis 27) Target 210. Inglis tries to turn up the volume by hooking Karunaratne but doesn’t get enough of it to reach or clear the ropes. A wide helps – too short, too high – then Inglis keeps the strike with a single out to deep cover. Seven off; 88 to get from 27 overs.

22nd over: Australia 115-3 (Labuschagne 28, Inglis 23) Target 210. Here comes [Jason Holder] Dhananjaaaaayaaaaaa [/Jason Holder]. Three more singles. The required rate is irrelevant thanks to Marsh – they only need 3.6 an over. It’s the Net Run Rate situation they need to start turning attention to shortly. Having dropped two games, there’s a not-inconsiderable chance they’ll end up duking it out for fourth spot based on that annoying measure. They’re now into this on telly, per Shane Watson. “They have to be very aware of it.” He adds they can “unleash the beasts” in the form of Maxwell and Stoinis soon enough.

Dhananjaya prepares to bowl.
Dhananjaya prepares to bowl. Photograph: Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC/Getty Images


21st over: Australia 112-3 (Labuschagne 26, Inglis 22) Target 210. In the end, better from Karunaratne who bowled a wide early on – just three off.

Marcus Abdullahi has been busy (sort of). “The best I can find after two minutes of rather less than exhaustive research is the Denmark side of the 80s, who regularly fielded six or seven Ns. There were seven in the side that played the all-conquering Oz in 1989 and, perhaps uniquely, the top three all had the same surname, ie Jensen.” Always loved the fact that Australia’s 1989 tour, per cricinfo, is described as a trip to England and Denmark. More of that.

The whole premise of this is a myth, by the way. So confessed by Krishnamoorthy, who started us talking about these matters. “My brother-in-law (the in-house walking encyclopedia) Sai pointed out the presence of Wellenge and Mendis to deflate my claim to 9/11 from 11/11.”

Still, that ain’t bad.

20th over: Australia 109-3 (Labuschagne 25, Inglis 21) Target 210. Wellalage is bowling tidily, three off the left-armer here for 0/33 off 7. But tidy won’t get them the win – they need another big intervention. They need Labuschagne.

19th over: Australia 106-3 (Labuschagne 24, Inglis 19) Target 210. Chamika Karunaratne, who has enjoyed bowling against Australia in the past, is into the attack with his nagging little medium pacers. You don’t see many bowlers designated as a medium pacer these days, so I’ll enjoy. He begins well but doesn’t maintain his length, dropping short to Inglis who slaps safely over backward point for a nice little pressure release boundary. Might Theekshana be changing ends, or following Wellalage, I wonder? As they don’t really need a fifth bowler – this game, as Nas says on telly, will be over inside 40 overs.

18th over: Australia 101-3 (Labuschagne 24, Inglis 14) Target 210. Gorgeous bit of flight from Wellalage to finish, finding the outside edge of Inglis – who is yet to look settled but has a great opportunity here to lock down his spot – but four more runs for Australia tick the box at this stage. I do wonder what it takes for Australia from here to go back to Carey? Interesting omission, given he’s such an experienced operator over a number of years now. I appreciate his returns were diminishing but it’s asking a lot of Inglis. Has to make the most of this.

17th over: Australia 97-3 (Labuschagne 22, Inglis 12) Target 210. Theekshana continues, as the TV commentators foreshadow that he will to the end as Sri Lanka’s best spinner – he’ll bowl through. Five singles here, which works for Australia as they try and get into the groove with a fresh partnership.

16th over: Australia 92-3 (Labuschagne 19, Inglis 10) Target 210. The Marsh wicket came after a couple of quiet overs from the Sri Lankan tweekers and that’s what we get back to here with three singles off Wellalage. Inglis had the chance to profit from the final ball but he cut it straight to cover.

15th over: Australia 89-3 (Labuschagne 18, Inglis 8) Target 210. Inglis goes back to his first ball from Theekshaka and a thick edge spits past slip and runs away for four! It was too full for the shot; lucky. And luckier still to get a genuine full toss next up, slapped past mid-off for four. Back in defense to finish. And that’s the end of a successful over for Sri Lanka. They must take ten wickets.

Drinks are on the field. Oh, how Australia might be hurt by that. Next is Inglis, who was nowhere in his first World Cup hit, then Maxwell, who is yet to fire in this tournament. No need for panic with 129 needed in 35.3 overs but with Marsh ticking over as he was… that’s bad judgment from the West Australian.

WICKET! Marsh run out [Karunaratne/Kusal Mendis] 52 (51). Australia 81-3

Oh dear. Marsh cuts a short enough ball behind point and backs himself to get back for a second, in keeping with the way this pair have scampered between the wickets, but the throw from Karunarante is a bullet! Gone by a metre!

Players celebrate the wicket of Marsh.
Players celebrate the wicket of Marsh. Photograph: Aijaz Rahi/AP


IS MARSH RUN OUT? It certainly looks that way! Upstairs we go…

14th over: Australia 79-2 (Marsh 51, Labuschagne 17) Target 210. Wellalage is on his hands and knees pleading for a leg before shout but there’s no review and rightly so – that’s missing leg stump by a long way on the angle from around the wicket to Marsh. But it’s a second frugal over in a row; just three off it.

13th over: Australia 76-2 (Marsh 50, Labuschagne 15) Target 210. Theekshana is the most likely of the Sri Lankan spinners so far, going for just one here. For what it’s worth, they were 70-0 at the same stage – before the collapse.

If they close this out in style, that will certainly be the main news line.

Marsh to 50 in 39 balls!

12th over: Australia 75-2 (Marsh 50, Labuschagne 14) Target 210. Some innings. Especially after losing Warner and Smith, it is Marsh, who is a senior player these days, who had to find a way through playing the way he does and so far, so good. He got to the milestone with a ball clouted out to the off-side, which has been the defining characteristic of his stay so far. If he’s there for another ten overs, it’ll be just about game over no matter what happens at the other end.

“Wouldn’t England have gone close to achieving this in recent times?” asks Dave Wright to the question about teams ending in the same latter. “Broady, Rooty, Stokesy, Woakesy, Foakesy etc etc.” Very good. Jimmy still there too.

Marsh celebrates his half century.
Marsh celebrates his half century. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images


11th over: Australia 70-2 (Marsh 47, Labuschagne 12) Target 210. The field back, Theekshana is back too, and six runs to the sweepers. Sensible batting.

10th over: Australia 64-2 (Marsh 45, Labuschagne 8) Target 210. Labuschagne nearly run out! A ping from backward point to the non-striker’s end doesn’t hit – how this turns if the throw is on. But alls well that ends well, two runs from Madushanka who has 2/14 from his five with 50 runs coming from the five overs at the other end in this power play. Marsh hit nine boundaries in it.

Plenty in this. Shane Watson said something similar on TV.

9th over: Australia 62-2 (Marsh 44, Labuschagne 7) Target 210. With the field still up, Wellalage isn’t getting away with anything short to Marsh, who rocks back a helps himself to four over midwicket – his 7th boundary. Make it eight: too short again and creamed through point, where he loves it. And nine! More agricultural to an extent, over midwicket to a fuller ball, but he committed to it early and was deep enough in the crease to free up his swing, which is so strong. This is superb from the makeshift Aussie opener, remembering he will almost certainly shuffle down to No3 when Travis Head returns from injury.

Katey Martin makes the very obvious point on telly that Marnus has his pads around the wrong way, with the thick bits on the inside of his leg to enable the straps to sit that side, but her colleagues are trying to tell her otherwise. Odd.

8th over: Australia 50-2 (Marsh 32, Labuschagne 7) Target 210. Madushanka continues and rightly so. TV cuts to a package of Chaminda Vaas bowling out the Windies at the 2003 World Cup and the similarities are obvious – what a bowler he was. Marsh looks more at ease here, tucking a single to give Labuschagne the strike who does the same to finish but with a more acute angle, playing late enough and timed well enough to run away for four. Tidy.

7th over: Australia 45-2 (Marsh 31, Labuschagne 3) Target 210. Wellalage gets a twist inside the power play as well, highlighting that Sri Lanka knows this game is there to be won right now, not in an hour or so with the field back. Three singles from the set, which both teams would probably be happy with.

“Good afternoon Adam.” Hello, Krishnamoorthy. “Just a bit of trivia. All players have names ending with ‘a’ in the Sri Lankan team. Surely no other cricket team can claim this badge. Football yes, I recall a Bulgarian team with all ending in v.”

Is anyone able to find out if/when this has happened before?

6th over: Australia 42-2 (Marsh 29, Labuschagne 2) Target 210. At last, runs off Madushanka – the first ball of his third over is lashed behind point by Marsh for another dominant boundary. It’s a game in two at the moment – what’s going on when the big boy is facing and what’s going on for everyone else. The left-armer keeps asking great questions though, really hooping it into the right-handers while having the change-up the other way off the seam. It’s a probing delivery of the swinging variety to Labuschagne to finish, very similar to the ball that got Smith, but he gets the ball down in time and adds two more to the tally.

NOT OUT! Good review – it’s thigh pad. Labuschagne laughs; Australia breathes.

5th over: Australia 35-2 (Marsh 24, Labuschagne 0) Target 210. Between times, Marsh strokes a gorgeous boundary through point and hits an equally superb cover drive to the rope off Kumara. It’s alllllll happening at Lucknow.


WICKET! Smith b Maduskahka 0 (5) Australia 24-2

Double wicket maiden! Madushanka is on fire and Australia are in strife… again! Earlier in the over, to Smith’s second ball, he had to jam the bat down in the nick of time to keep it off his woodwork and so it was again here but the front pad was in the way and that was hitting middle. Blimey – what an over. He has 2/0 having bowled his overs after 15 and nine were hit down the other end.

4th over: Australia 24-2 (Marsh 13) Target 210.

Madushanka celebrates the wicket of Smith.
Madushanka celebrates the wicket of Smith. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images


WICKET! Warner lbw b Madushanka 11 (6) Australia 24-1

It’s hitting enough of leg stump! Height is not the concern in the end, more the angle for a left-armer over the wicket. It was the variable bounce that caused him to miss the ball and, despite what it looks like on the first replay where it looked likely to be missing leg-stump, Joel Wilson’s decision is upheld and David Warner is absolutely furious as he leaves the field.

WARNER GIVEN LBW! No bounce at all from Madushanka. He’s reviewed it.

Madushanka celebrates the wicket Warner.
Madushanka celebrates the wicket Warner. Photograph: Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC/Getty Images


3rd over: Australia 24-0 (Marsh 13, Warner 11) Target 210. Kumara off in favour of Theekshana, who often bowls up front with his pacy off-spin. Warner gives the strike straight back to Marsh who goes back to defend but does so wide of extra cover for four – “how’s that for timing!” roars Ian Smith on commentary. But the correction, to the extent that one was needed, is too short to Marsh goes back and carves hard behind point for another boundary. This is exactly what they need from the West Australian, applying early pressure.

2nd over: Australia 15-0 (Marsh 5, Warner 10) Target 210. Madushanka’s left-arm seam follows, having bowled nicely up front against Pakistan. And he’s not giving Marsh anything to have a go at here, completing a maiden with a gem that beats the bat outside the line with a ball that darts off the seam. An exercise in contrast here for Australia – 15 runs from the first over, zero in the second.

1st over: Australia 15-0 (Marsh 5, Warner 10) Target 210. Bang! First ball, Marsh gets those strong straight arms through the ball, clearing mid-off for four. That’s precisely what the all-rounder needed. He has a dart at the next one too but a thick inside edge spits away for one. Warner pulls hard at his second delivery, albeit off the stickers of the blade, safely to deep backward square for a couple. The left-hander pulls out when someone walks in front of the sight screen as Kumara reaches the crease – the bowler doesn’t like it but that’s modern cricket. When he gets there next time it’s on the leg stump for a clip, the openers sprinting back to turn an ease one into a hard-run two. Super batting. As is it when Warner gets down low to sweep a SIX to finish! Good grief, you don’t see that too often against a sharp opening bowler, launching it high and long into the stands over square leg. A huge first over – Australia are in hunting mode.

The players are on the field! No time lost. The Sri Lankan fielders are followed by Dave Warner and Mitch Marsh, the latter in need of a nice stint in the middle. So, the target is 210. That’s part one. But part two, doing this quickly enough that they leave here with some of the damage from their first two losses mitigated. Should be a busy couple of hours. Kumara has the new ball. PLAY!

Good news… the covers are off. That’ll be a relief to the Australians. For a moment or two, I did consider the implications of this being deemed unsafe for play by the umpires. Anyway, looks like we’re through that. For now.

Quite a few videos circulating of the branding from the stands falling off, with the crowd, understandably, running for cover. It makes sense that the match officials want to take their time before sending the players back out there.

The delay continues. There aren’t many people at the ground for this one but those who have are all in the back sections of the grandstand, so we can see on the telly. The rain can’t be heavy, there aren’t any umbrellas out there and the Australians are doing some warm-ups, but the ground staff aren’t moving from their positions keeping the covers pinned down. A bit going on.

Rain and debris delay play

A quick cross from the ground shows the umpires talking to the groundstaff as the covers are brought out – it is raining. But the bigger problem, by the looks, is the parts of the grandstand that flew off during the sandstorm at the end of the first innings are now on the field. More news as it comes in from the ground.

JP, lovely stuff mate. Nice to be here, hello everyone. However you frame it up, that’s quite the collapse – 10/84 or 6/31 since the rain. I prefer 9/52: a Hadlee Brisbane 1985. What’s clear is that in the space of a couple of hours, Australia have, at long last, got their bowling mojo back. Zampa especially – those pacy googlies are such a weapon and a four-fa will do him so much good.

To the chase: Australia needs to get some of that precious Net Run Rate back having been pantsed by India and South Africa. Sure, they can’t get into strife early on but once the foundation has been laid I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they try and hammer their way to the 210 target well inside 40 overs. We’ll see.

For now, we’ve got highlights of the 2003 World Cup Final on the telly. Quite surprised they’re allowed to play highlights of that game – can only assume the local broadcaster isn’t taking the ICC’s interval filler?

Right, as we wait for part two do drop me a line or ping me a tweet.

Sri Lanka 209 all out

Sri Lanka were cruising at 125-0 in the 22nd over. What followed thereafter was very grim indeed.

Pathum Nissanka was the first to go, caught in the deep by David Warner, the catalyst of Australia’s resurgence. His fielding sparked his team into life, and when he held onto a similar but even better effort half-an-hour later it signalled a return to the bristling confident Australia of old, not this torpid facsimile of recent matches.

20 overs of chaotic captaincy became inspired decision making from Pat Cummins. Adam Zampa went from 0/22 off three overs to 4/47 off eight. There was a direct run out and a play-on as the rub of the green turned Australia’s way, not to mention a trademark inswinging yorker from Mitchell Starc.

Amongst all of that there was a rain delay, a dust storm, a failed review from the first ball of the innings, and the sight of Glenn Maxwell (again the pick of Australia’s attack) running back to his mark to improve a poor over-rate.

Nissanka’s 61 and Kusal Perera’s 78 feel like they were scored weeks ago.

Now it’s over to Australia’s batters. In the space of 20 or so overs they appear to have found their mojo in the field, but what about at the crease?

These are sub-optimal playing conditions and with Sri Lanka experiencing the same loss aversion at 0-2 down in the tournament they will be no pushovers. But not only must Australia do the business, it would be beneficial if they did so quickly and improve their tournament worst net run-rate.

To see if they can achieve one or both of those feats, it’s over to Adam Collins. I’ll catch you back here on Friday.

WICKET! Asalanka c Labuschagne b Maxwell 25 (Sri Lanka 209)

Maxwell continues his speedy work and he should have Madushanka run out turning for two but Smith’s throw from long-on is poor. No bother, Asalanka skies a slog sweep to the safe hands of Labuschagne to end the misery.

43rd over: Sri Lanka 207-9 (Asalanka 23, Madushanka 0) Asalanka does his best to force the issue against Starc, but it’s a job easier said than done against such an intimidating bowler in such a match situation. He accepts a single from the second ball after some good fielding prevented a boundary. Madushanka blocks out his complement.

It’s now four hours since the first ball of the day was bowled.

What’s happened now? A little devil of a dust storm has whipped up following a flurry of wind and there’s debris swirling everywhere like we’re in The Wizard of Oz. The players play through for a few deliveries but then something bigger falls from the sky, perhaps some advertising boards from the upper deck? It’s enough to force the umpires to converge and hold up play for a couple of minutes.

42nd over: Sri Lanka 205-9 (Asalanka 22, Madushanka 0) Maxwell replaces Zampa in a bid to recover the tardy over-rate. He literally runs back to his mark to rattle through an over that goes for just one single in quicktime.

41st over: Sri Lanka 204-9 (Asalanka 21, Madushanka 0) Sri Lanka’s collapse has been something to behold. The rest of the world cup will be furious too because every wicket has fed the Australian beast.

WICKET! Kumara b Starc 4 (Sri Lanka 204-9)

Another over begins with Asalanka accepting an easy single. Starc then fires a missile at Kumara, backing away, that looks destined for a dismissal until a fine fine inside edge deflects the ball to the fine leg fence. Starc gets his man soon afterwards though, first pinning him to his crease with a bumper, then nailing the base of leg stump with an unplayable inswinging yorker.

Starc celebrates the wicket of Kumara.
Starc celebrates the wicket of Kumara. Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP


40th over: Sri Lanka 199-8 (Asalanka 20, Kumara 0) Sri Lanka were 125 without loss in the 22nd over. Adam Zampa had gone for 22 from three poor overs. Now the leggie has 4/47 and his opponents look bereft.

WICKET! Theekshana LBW Zampa 0 (Sri Lanka 199-8)

Instead, Asalanka nudges a single from the first delivery of Zampa’s eighth over. The second has Theekshana failing to pick the wrong ‘un and being struck on the crease in front of middle stump. That was very out and really did not require the unnecessary review to confirm it.

39th over: Sri Lanka 198-7 (Asalanka 19, Theekshana 0) Another suffocating over from Hazlewood goes for just two runs. Asalanka is going to have to start taking control of this innings soon, if for no other reason than to give their bowling attack some momentum heading into Australia’s dig.

WICKET! Karunaratne LBW Zampa 2 (Sri Lanka 196-7)

In a bid to make something happen Australia call on Zampa, and he does make something happen! Six for Asalanka! Out of nowhere a rare attacking stroke – and a beauty at that. Asalanka just leant into a full delivering, easing it over long off for the first maximum of the innings. But Zampa exacts his revenge with a wicket! Karunaratne plopped forward, and like Samarawickrama before him, played inside the line and found himself pinned LBW. This time it was the googly that did the trick, and a confidence-boosting third wicket for the under fire bowler.

38th over: Sri Lanka 196-7 (Asalanka 18)

37th over: Sri Lanka 187-6 (Asalanka 10, Karunaratne 1) Starc makes way for Hazlewood. Bowling line and length right-arm over, the big quick concedes just one single. Sri Lanka have little interest in doing anything proactive. This is now an inert innings.

36th over: Sri Lanka 186-6 (Asalanka 9, Karunaratne 1) Maxwell goes for just two singles in another speedy over of darts. Sri Lanka are being hustled out of the world cup here.

35th over: Sri Lanka 184-6 (Asalanka 8, Karunaratne 0) From targeting 300+ Sri Lanka will be happy with anything over 200 at this rate. Australia have upped the ante but this has been a poor collapse.

WICKET! Wellalage run out (Cummins) 2 (Sri Lanka 184-6)

If fielding is the litmus test of a team’s form, then Australia are back in business. Add to Warner’s pair of excellent catches a direct-hit run out from mid-off from captain Cummins. Wellalage was struggling to get Starc away so chanced Cummins’ arm with a tip and run, only to fail to make his ground by a few inches despite a full length dive. Sri Lanka are in freefall.

34th over: Sri Lanka 182-5 (Asalanka 6, Wellalage 3) With two left-handers now at the crease Maxwell gets recalled into the attack. He races through his work, firing the ball in full and straight, keeping the pressure on Sri Lanka.

33rd over: Sri Lanka 180-5 (Asalanka 4, Wellalage 1) De Silva went for an expansive drive with his hands a long way from his body outside the off stump. There was good fortune for Australia getting the inside-edge onto the stumps, but that was a very ill-advised stroke, especially in the match situation. Sri Lanka have now lost 55/5 in a tick over 11 overs. Things finally starting to swing Australia’s way.

WICKET! de Silva b Starc 7 (Sri Lanka 178-5)

Starc strikes second ball back! From around the wicket it’s a routine delivery but de Silva plays down the wrong line and gets a thick inside edge that cannons into his stumps. Sri Lanka’s collapse continues!

Here we go, a crucial 18 over mini-session for both teams. Starc to resume from around the wicket to de Silva.

Play to resume in five minutes.

Shower over, the covers are coming off.

I feel a bit like Ian McCaskill.

No idea if this will be a long delay or not. In the short term it probably suits Sri Lanka to have the opportunity to regroup following that awful nine-over spell.

Rain stops play

There’s a sprinkling of un-forecast rain. The players come off and the covers come on – David Warner assisting the groundstaff in his own inimitable way.

32.1 over: Sri Lanka 178-4 (Asalanka 4, de Silva 7)


32nd over: Sri Lanka 177-4 (Asalanka 3, de Silva 7) Zampa continues his Lazarus-like spell, but de Silva pricks the optimism by deftly late-cutting a boundary from the opening ball of the over. Asalanka then fails to cash in on a full toss as Sri Lanka’s ship steadies.

31st over: Sri Lanka 169-4 (Asalanka 1, de Silva 1) Cummins takes a breather, perhaps to allow Starc the confidence boost of a cheap wicket. It doesn’t materialise, but neither do Sri Lanka capitalise on a wayward over with the two new batters desperate to stop the rot.

30th over: Sri Lanka 166-4 (Asalanka 0, de Silva 0) The hat-trick delivery is unthreatening but it prompts the insertion of a slip and the increase of even more pressure on Sri Lanka. Zampa now looks like vintage Shane Warne, landing all his leggies and keeping de Silva pinned to the crease. Wicket maiden from the man who looked like he may only have one over to retain his place in the side! Sri Lanka have lost 4/41 in nine overs and look at risk of throwing away their serene start.

WICKET! Samarawickrama LBW Zampa 8 (Sri Lanka 166-4)

Zampa is on a hat-trick! It was a straightforward dismissal with Samarawickrama just playing the wrong line. Australia are rampant. Sri Lanka are collapsing.

Zampa celebrates the wicket of Samarawickrama.
Zampa celebrates the wicket of Samarawickrama. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Inglis (L) successfully appeals against the wicket of Samarawickrama.
Inglis (L) successfully appeals against the wicket of Samarawickrama. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images


Sri Lanka review for LBW

Zampa has Samarawickrama LBW with one that holds its line, beats the inside edge and thuds into the pads. Joel Wilson raises his finger. Sri Lanka review…

29th over: Sri Lanka 166-2 (Samarawickrama 8, Asalanka 0) The energy out in the middle has changed dramatically. Australia are on the front foot, throwing down the stumps with run-out attempts, hurling down bouncers, and urging one another on. Cummins maintains the pressure after the wicket with an over worth just one run, beating Asalanka for pace outside off, and appealing heartily for a glove down the legside that looks to have clipped only thigh pad.

WICKET! Mendis c Warner b Zampa 9 (Sri Lanka 165-3)

With two newish right-handers at the crease Cummins throws the ball to Zampa in another effort to get his legspinner into this tournament. Mendis misses out on a rank drag down, but that merely allows Samarawickrama to pierce the heavily fortified offside with a magnificent cover drive. Zampa looks so small and lost out there, he needs something to go his way. AND THAT IS IT! Mendis pulls out the slog sweep from nowhere, doesn’t get all of it, and Warner takes his second stonking catch of the match, running in from the square-leg fence, diving, and holding on despite a knee digging deep into the Luknow outfield. Brilliant fielding. Sri Lanka lose a third in quick succession. Zampa can breathe again!

28th over: Sri Lanka 165-3 (Samarawickrama 7)

27th over: Sri Lanka 158-2 (Mendis 8, Samarawickrama 1) Excellent knock from Perera, but that was a soft dismissal considering his eye was in and there was a big score in the offing. Terrific endeavour from Cummins though who now has two wickets to his name. Sri Lanka’s two form batters now at the crease. They need this partnership to go deep if they’re going to push 300.

WICKET! Kusal Perera b Cummins 78 (Sri Lanka 157-2)

Cummins shifts from over to around the wicket to the left-handed KP – and cleans him up! Cricket is simple sometimes: they miss, you hit, as I was always taught. Nothing flash from the bowler, just line and length, but the batter picked the wrong line, swung hard, and found himself castled. Big breakthrough for Australia.

Perera reacts as he leaves the ground after being bowled by Cummins.
Perera reacts as he leaves the ground after being bowled by Cummins. Photograph: Aijaz Rahi/AP


26th over: Sri Lanka 156-1 (Kusal Perera 78, Kusal Mendis 7) Maxwell’s spell survives into a second over, and it’s a rare tight one, with only four dabbed singles to report.

25th over: Sri Lanka 152-1 (Kusal Perera 76, Kusal Mendis 5) Still the changes come, and it’s Cummins back into the fray, suggesting his most recent withdrawal could have been a change of ends. It doesn’t change Australia’s luck though with KP, now working through the gears, swinging the bat freely to send a full delivery straight of mid-on for a handsome boundary.

Sri Lanka well on course for a third consecutive 300+ score this world cup at the halfway point in their innings.

24th over: Sri Lanka 145-1 (Kusal Perera 70, Kusal Mendis 4) Another change! Cummins gets a wicket then pulls himself out of the attack. Is the scattergun approach to who bowls next a plan, do you think? Is it match-ups based on who’s on strike? Is it working? No. Maxwell goes for eight, including a sumptuous late cut from KP who is cruising towards a century.

“Why doesn’t cricket use Hawkeye for EVERY LBW shout – like the US Open did,” queries Arul Kanhere. “Why should the captain’s judgement/confidence stop us from making the right call 100% of the time. Baffles me.” Time Arul. The variables involved would drag out an already torturously long sport into something verging on interminable. The requirements involved in tennis are more limited and easier to apply.

23rd over: Sri Lanka 137-1 (Kusal Perera 64, Kusal Mendis 2) Hazlewood mimics his skipper by dropping short, but KP is ready for the barrage, waiting on his crease and belting a pair of fours to the on-side. The bowler shifts from over to around the wicket to the left-hander but the opener reads the play and gets inside the line to rotate the strike.

22nd over: Sri Lanka 127-1 (Kusal Perera 55, Kusal Mendis 1) Could that be the spark that finally ignites this world cup for Australia? Excellent plan of attack, well executed, backed up by superb fielding.

WICKET! Nissanka c Warner b Cummins 61 (Sri Lanka 126-1)

The bowling changes keep coming. Maxwell only gets one over with Cummins bringing himself back into the attack. The skipper’s third ball is short and slapped with disdain miles in front of square by Nissanka. But it’s the old two-card trick! Cummins lured Nissanka, offering a near identically pitched delivery, only much much sharper. Blood pumping, the batter can’t resist another pull, but he’s a fraction later, the bat is hit a fraction higher, and the ball is in the air a long time, allowing Warner time to run around from the square-leg boundary and dive full length to hold onto a very good catch at midwicket. Australia finally have a breakthrough!

21st over: Sri Lanka 121-0 (Nissanka 57, Kusal 54) Another bowling change. Another spell beginning with cheap runs. This time it’s Hazlewood going for two then four with deliveries lacking in line or length. The over at least ends with a slower ball dying underneath an attempted pull, but it’s thin gruel.

20th over: Sri Lanka 114-0 (Nissanka 50, Kusal 54) Australia’s solitary frontline spinner, Zampa, is dragged with figures of 0/22 from three overs. On comes their most likely bowler, Maxwell, but he can’t deny Pathum Nissanka his second half-century of this world cup. Sri Lanka are in cruise control, waiting for their opportunity to accelerate.

Nissanka celebrates his half century with team mate Perera.
Nissanka celebrates his half century with team mate Perera. Photograph: Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC/Getty Images


19th over: Sri Lanka 110-0 (Nissanka 48, Kusal 52) Kusal Perera brings up a solid 50 with a firm drive down the ground as Stoinis overpitches. It’s all drifting again for Australia.

18th over: Sri Lanka 102-0 (Nissanka 47, Kusal 47) Poor again from Zampa, going for six, including another legsiwde wide, and getting away with a long-hop.

After a bit of a breather, an on-field HIA, and some pills, Kusal is fit to continue. Hopefully there are no delayed concussive effects.


17th over: Sri Lanka 96-0 (Nissanka 46, Kusal 43) Starc’s second spell is curtailed by the introduction of Marcus Stoinis – and it almost brings a wicket! Technically that’s a dropped catch by Labuschagne at midwicket, but it was really a boundary saving parry after Nissanka got hold of a short ball that whistled high to the fielder’s left, making him pull out an effort akin to a goalkeeper making a fingertip save.

Soon afterwards Kusal is in all sorts after being struck flush on the helmet by a Stoinis bumper. That was a wicked delivery, straight at the badge, through the attempted hook shot, and as soon as it struck the batter he looked in distress. Hopefully he’s ok.


16th over: Sri Lanka 91-0 (Nissanka 42, Kusal 42) Adam Zampa gets us back underway after drinks with a legside wide. He ploughs a similar furrow next ball, allowing Kusal the opportunity to sweep a couple, then shifts his line to the off stump, whereby the Sri Lanka opener slog sweep’s a one-bounce four over cow corner. Australia are just thankful Sri Lanka have yet to really get away from them, hoping they can cling on long enough for at least one bowler to hit a purple patch.


15th over: Sri Lanka 84-0 (Nissanka 41, Kusal 37) Not much to report from Starc’s fifth over, other than a massive legside wide to Kusal. Who are these impostors in yellow, and what have they done to Australia?

14th over: Sri Lanka 79-0 (Nissanka 40, Kusal 34) Maxwell is replaced by Zampa, Australia’s most crucial bowler for the next couple of hours. And the leggie begins with a long hop that Nissanka smears through mid-on. Then he’s pummelled along the turf and into the sightscreen when he tosses the ball up. Yikes!

13th over: Sri Lanka 70-0 (Nissanka 31, Kusal 34) Cummins’ nondescript spell ends as he hands the ball back to Starc for a second dart, way ahead of schedule. As with his opening effort the big left-armer is bowling full and aiming for swing, but he leaks onto Kusal’s pads and gets glanced for four, then chipped over the ring, fortunately straight to the sweeper on the bounce.

There’s also a third non-Mankad! This is unprecedented. For the third time today Starc has aborted his delivery stride in a bid to catch Kusal out of his ground. The first time he tried it there were a few inches in it – but it was touch and go as to whether the batter was setting off only in the delivery stride itself. Efforts two and three didn’t even warrant a glare, serving only to burn the fast bowler’s energy in the heat and further delay the already woefully slow over-rates. Peculiar.

12th over: Sri Lanka 63-0 (Nissanka 29, Kusal 29) Composed batting from both openers keeps the score ticking over, despite another leg stump LBW appeal from Maxwell. This one less convincing than the first.

11th over: Sri Lanka 57-0 (Nissanka 27, Kusal 25) Nissanka slashes Cummins through point for a vicious four just as TV replays indicate a review the previous over would have given Maxwell a wicket when he appealed for LBW. Who’d be a captain, let alone a bowling one?


10th over: Sri Lanka 51-0 (Nissanka 22, Kusal 24) Kusal gets away with one there, trying to sweep Maxwell’s first delivery off a length, succeeding only in spiralling a top-edge that clears the keeper and runs away for four. That was a high risk shot considering the amount of bounce Maxwell found in his opening over. It’s dots thereafter, and one hearty bellow for LBW, but Joel Wilson doesn’t fancy it, nor does Pat Cummins with only one review left to play with.

Sri Lanka end the first powerplay in decent order.

9th over: Sri Lanka 47-0 (Nissanka 22, Kusal 20) Cummins isn’t doing a lot with the ball, beyond leaking onto the pads of the right-left opening pair. Sri Lanka ticking along nicely with only minor scares so far.

Cummins bowls a delivery.
Cummins bowls a delivery. Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP


8th over: Sri Lanka 42-0 (Nissanka 19, Kusal 19) Glenn Maxwell, Australia’s bowler of the tournament, is on early. There’s variable bounce and a hint of turn straight away, and he induces an edge from Nissanka! Unfortunately Inglis fails to read the play out of the hand and has no chance of responding off the bat. Not great again from the new keeper after he failed to cover himself in glory on tournament debut. Maxwell looks set to be the man once again.

7th over: Sri Lanka 39-0 (Nissanka 18, Kusal 17) Captain Cummins brings himself on to allow Starc more time to perfect his Mankad technique. But he’s immediately glanced to the fine leg fence by Kusal. It’s dots thereafter though, including a delivery that beats Kusal for pace, and one that features the Sri Lanka opener missing with a wild swipe.

“Poor old Alex Carey,” emails Robert Ellson. “First they drop him, and now Starc throws him under the bus by not running out Perera. Got to feel for the guy.”


6th over: Sri Lanka 34-0 (Nissanka 18, Kusal 13) Nissanka clips an unfussy three off his hip then Kusal batters a pull for four as Hazlewood drops a touch short without bending his back. Sri Lanka then find Labuschagne on the dive at mid-off for the third time this morning following strokes worthy of boundaries.

💩 or get off the pot.

5th over: Sri Lanka 26-0 (Nissanka 15, Kusal 9) Starc shifts his attack from hooping in-swingers to the right-hander to slanting the ball across. Nissanka does not look at ease with the shift, raising questions about his balance and technique, then he clubs a boundary through the non-striker.

Starc does that weird non-Mankad thing again, aborting his delivery stride, but Kusal clearly has his bat in his crease. In other news, we’ve had five overs in half an hour’s play.

Nissanka plays a shot.
Nissanka plays a shot. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images


4th over: Sri Lanka 21-0 (Nissanka 10, Kusal 9) First hint of width of the afternoon and Kusal throws his hands at the ball, crushing it square behind point for a fizzing boundary. Hazlewood overcorrects and Kusal makes it consecutive fours with a gorgeous straight drive. Cummins responds by pulling out second slip and shifting him to cover. Aaron Finch sounds deflated on TV commentary by the move. The doubters over Cummins’s long-term suitability to the captaincy are beginning to clear their throats.

3rd over: Sri Lanka 13-0 (Nissanka 10, Kusal 1) After an over at Nissanka, Starc gets a look at the left-handed Kusal, and he’s quickly beating the outside edge with a beautiful away-swinger. Key on this surface is length though, and despite finding similar swing soon afterwards, he’s a touch fuller, allowing the Sri Lanka opener chance to hit through the line. But like Nissanka in the previous over the promising shot is straight to mid-off. Runs are not far away though with Starc leaking onto the pads of first the left then the right-handed batter.

Stoinis dives unsuccessfully to stop a boundary.
Stoinis dives unsuccessfully to stop a boundary. Photograph: Aijaz Rahi/AP


2nd over: Sri Lanka 10-0 (Nissanka 8, Kusal 0) Josh Hazlewood shares opening bowling duties, conceding just a leg-bye as he settles into his preferred top-of-off line and length. He overpitches only once and is fortunate Nissanka’s handsome drive is within sliding reach of Labuschagne in the ring.

Umpire update – further to my Alex wharf request earlier on, the Yorkshireman isn’t even standing. Joel Wilson is a late replacement. Not sure why.

1st over: Sri Lanka 9-0 (Nissanka 8, Kusal 0) Plenty going on in that opening over from Starc. Following that poor review there was a fine tickle for four down the leg side and a confident clip in front of square for four more, as well as a legside wide as the big paceman struggled to contain his swing. Starc also found time to pull up in his delivery stride and warn Kusal Perera not to walk out of his ground backing up. It was marginal, but Starc made his point without causing a diplomatic incident.

Not out (Australia lose a review)

Never mind all those other reasons that review was on shaky ground, Nissanka hit it.

Australia review the first ball!

It’s classic Starc, fast and full and swinging into the right-handed Nissanka from over the wicket. The batter is almost knocked off his feet as the ball arcs towards the big toe on his left foot. It’s given not out on-field. Starc is adamant despite question marks over whether the ball pitched in line, hit pad first, or was angling down the legside. Apart from that…


Ok, time for some cricket. Mitchell Starc (with yellow compression sleeves today thankfully) has the new white ball. Pathum Nissanka is on strike.

The umpires today are Englishman Alex Wharf and New Zealander Chris Gaffaney.

Incidentally, Wharf is a Bradford-born former County pro. I reckon he must have played alongside Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood at some point in his pre-umpiring career. Can anyone out there confirm?

Anthem time in Lucknow. As is customary, Sri Lanka Matha takes quite a while, and contains plenty of false peaks for the uninitiated. Advance Australia Fair provokes a bloke in the crowd in a vintage Port Adelaide Power singlet to place his cap against his heart.

Meanwhile, many many miles away…

Conditions in Lucknow are hot, but it is cloudier and hazier than last week, which may provide less oppressive playing conditions.

Lucknow hosts Australia and Sri Lanka in the cricket world cup.
Lucknow hosts Australia and Sri Lanka in the cricket world cup. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images

Geoff Lemon was in Lucknow for Australia’s horror show against South Africa.

Even a sputtering Australian side should – let’s stress, should – do the job against Netherlands, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. That would mean they need three wins out of four against Sri Lanka, Pakistan, England and New Zealand. It’s not mission impossible. But it’s going to need something, some sort of spark that can get this team enjoying the challenge instead of being daunted by it.

When Australia and South Africa played on this square (one strip across) a few days ago nobody had any idea what it would do. It took Australia 30 or so overs to realise that when bowling first it benefited pace being take off the ball. This, of course, is not what Australia wanted to find out.

Later on, expect dew to fall and the ball to skid on.

Steve Smith inspects the Lucknow pitch.
Steve Smith inspects the Lucknow pitch. Photograph: Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC/Getty Images


Sri Lanka XI

Captain Dasun Shanaka has been ruled out of the rest of the world cup after sustaining a quadriceps tear against Pakistan. Chamika Karunaratne takes his place in the XI while Kusal Mendis will set the field. And he’s in rare form after battering 122 off 77 balls against Pakistan, then 76 off 42 vs South Africa.

There’s one other change too with Lahiru Kumara a like-for-like replacement in the seam attack for the injured Matheesha Pathirana. And that attack has not fared so well this tournament, but after winning the toss on this surface against a skittish Australian line-up, they have conditions in their favour to play themselves into form.

Sri Lanka: 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera, 3 Kusal Mendis (capt, wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Dunith Wellalage, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Dilshan Madushanka, 11 Lahiru Kumara.


Australia XI

Australia go in unchanged, which means Josh Inglis retains the gloves and Marcus Stoinis’s hamstring is fit enough to back up for a second match in quick succession. All eyes on Adam Zampa with Australia’s only frontline spinner underwhelming so far this tournament, with his travails putting the spotlight on selectors.

Captain Cummins, who is playing – despite Michael Clarke’s hearsay, did a bad job of convincing anyone he was fine with losing the toss. At least his bowlers know from the off the requirement to drag their lengths back and vary their paces.

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Mitchell Marsh, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Josh Inglis (wk), 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Marcus Stoinis, 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Sri Lanka win the toss and will bat first

If Australia’s match against South Africa is any indication, that is a massive toss to win for Sri Lanka. They should get the better of both the batting and bowling conditions.

While our focus today is on Australia and Sri Lanka, we cannot go any further without reference to yesterday’s incredible upset when defending champions England were thoroughly outplayed by Afghanistan.

It is the kind of result that reminds us of the purpose of these tournaments and a signal to cricket’s administrators that associate and affiliate nations require investment for the long-term health of the sport.

Speaking of the current Australian skipper, one of his predecessors, Michael Clarke has been quoted today as saying: “heard last night that Pat Cummins is not going to be selected for this game.” Hmmmm.

It reminds me of this quote from Ray Hadley following Clarke’s contretemps with Karl Stefanovic in Noosa.

If I were to give advice to a 41-year-old male adult, who I don’t know ... it would be along the lines of keep it in your pants, son.

“Every game now becomes almost like a final,” observed Pat Cummins in his prematch press conference.


Hello everybody and welcome to live OBO coverage of match 14 of the 2023 Cricket World Cup. Australia v Sri Lanka will get under way in Lucknow at 2pm local time (7.30pm AEDT/9.30am BST).

We’ve barely scratched the surface of this tournament but it already feels like Australia – five time world cup winners, reigning ICC Test world champions, and all-round cricketing behemoths – are in must win territory.

They begin their third match rock bottom of the ten team group and realistically in a dogfight for the fourth qualification spot while India, New Zealand, and South Africa stretch their legs above them.

It has been a disastrous start to the tournament with consecutive defeats to India and South Africa seeing Australia outperformed in every facet of the game. Perhaps of greatest concern with regards a barometer of form, the fielding performance against the Proteas was as poor as you are ever likely to see from an Australian representative cricket team.

What’s more, the make-up of the squad leaves little room to manoeuvre. Selectors have backed pace as Australia’s point of difference, but surfaces in Chennai and Lucknow have favoured spin and slower-ball variations. The underperforming Alex Carey and Cameron Green have already been dropped, while carrying the injured Travis Head into the competition has gone from an exercise in forward planning to one of hubris.

Victory over Sri Lanka is now all but essential, and it doesn’t matter how. Getting over the line will suffice to provide some much needed breathing room before a massive clash against Pakistan on Friday.

Sri Lanka are in a similar boat having lost their opening two matches. However, it did require a World Cup record chase from Pakistan to down them in their opening encounter, and they managed a gallant 326 in pursuit of South Africa’s unimaginable 428, so there remains no shortage of optimism in Chris Silverwood’s camp.

I will be on deck for the first innings, then handing over to Adam Collins for the denoument. If you’d like to get in touch while I’m on, please fire all communication to

Mitchell Starc will hope to have better luck in Lucknow as Australia battle to keep their world cup alive.
Mitchell Starc will hope to have better luck in Lucknow as Australia battle to keep their world cup alive. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.