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Australia to stay unchanged for Sri Lanka encounter after NZ drubbing

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PERTH: Champions Australia will keep faith in the 11 players who were humbled in their T20 World Cup opener against New Zealand as the hosts prepare to face resurgent Sri Lanka, all-rou­nder Mitchell Marsh said on Monday.

Australia were bowled out for 111 and lost by 89 runs in Sydney on Saturday, leaving their title defence on thin ice after a single match.

With batsman Steve Smith and all-rounder Cameron Green in reserve in the squad, some pundits had called on Australia to make changes for the next Super 12 game against former champions Sri Lanka in Perth on Tuesday.

But Marsh said selectors would give the players a chance to bounce back.

“To my knowledge we’ll be playing the same 11 (and) hopefully stay the course,” Western Australian Marsh told reporters in Perth. “The nature of the tournament, you lose one game, your back is up against the wall and we know what’s in front of us now.

“I think what’s important for us is to not look too far ahead. We’ve got Sri Lanka tomorrow night. That’s all that matters for us.”

Marsh said Australia’s confidence had not been affected by the stinging defeat to the Black Caps, which saw the vaunted pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood taken apart by the New Zealand batsmen.

Sri Lankan spinners Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga played a key part in the team’s opening nine-wicket cruise past Ireland on Sunday.

The pair troubled the Australians when they toured Sri Lanka in June but conditions are likely to be different in Australia.

“Hopefully spin doesn’t play a huge factor in Perth and we can look to really attack them,” said Marsh.

“They’re two key bowlers and if we can get on top of them then I think we’ll be ahead of the game.”

Theekshana said Sri Lanka are oozing confidence after their thumping win over Ireland but were wary of the wounded hosts.

“They lost to New Zealand and we won, so we have got the confidence more than the Australian team,” Theekshana, who returned impressive figures of 2-19 on Sunday, told reporters.

“Always nice to win a game and our hope is always to go for the four teams, so we have to beat them. “They have very good fast bowlers and spinners also. They are last year’s champions, so they have to bounce back if they want to be in the tournament.”

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2022


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