16 April 2007

Mini-battles today

Today, Australia play the only team that look like having the arsenal to beat them.

Murali v Ponting, Clarke, Symonds: Whether setting a total or chasing, this match is likely to be determined in how the Aussie batting copes with Murali in the middle overs. Ponting used to have problems with quality spin. Harbhajan Singh in his zestier days used to torment him. The weakness seemed to be his inability to defend with soft hands - something that he has been able to overcome by taking the attack to the bowlers at the beginning of their spells. If those chinks still exist, Murali is the one to expose them. Clarke, on the other hand has feet like quicksilver and is ackowledged to be one of the best young players of good spin bowling outside the subcontinent. Where the Aussies have an edge over the other teams that have faced Murali so far in the tournament is their ability to steal singles - thus denting the pressure game that he so relishes. Also, a set Mathew Hayden could change this equation completely, by going ballistic against Murali.

Jayasurya v Bracken: Face it, if Jayasurya survives the tenth over, chances are that the Aussie bowling is likely to take a beating. For someone who has opened the innings for the Lankans for what seems like an eternity, the left-arm pacer can't be called a weakness. Be that as it may, Bracken's ability to alternately take the ball away from the left handers and bring it in, can get him Jayasurya's wicket. Bracken should concentrate on his length and movement in the air and leave the bouncing to Tait.

Jayawardene, Sangakkara v McGrath: Like Murali, McGrath too loves a challenge. Whether setting a target, or chasing, the bulk of Srilanka's batting in the tournament (outside of Jayasurya) has come from this experienced duo. Sanga has batted himself back into form, and Jayawardene has decisevely erased his bad World Cup record. Expect Sangakkara to take the attack to McGrath.

Dilshan, Arnold, Chamara v Hogg, Symonds: If they are batting first, Sri Lanka will look to capitalize on the fifteen or so overs from these too. However, the Sri Lankan lower middle order has not yet displayed an ability to explode in the latter stages of the innings. Today, they may have to.

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