For the last 10 years or so, Australia have been quite comfortably the best Test and one-day side in the world, and Friday’s demolition of Ireland was a fairly typical example of the ruthless manner in which they dominate and finish off lesser teams.
However, recent events have shown that they can be beaten. The trick for the opposition is not to be drawn into the helter-skelter game that Australia play. Against an opponent like that, you can’t abandon your own game in favour of theirs. That may be more than you are capable of, so just stick to what you do best. We certainly will look to repeat the efficiency that we displayed against New Zealand.
The thing is that as we draw closer to the semifinals, the thought that plays at the back of everyone’s minds is that one poor performance will knock you out.
In the case of Australia, they know that dropping a game against us won’t really make a difference because they are already in the last four, but the pressure on them is of a different kind.
While all the other teams are desperate to make the semis, Australia carry the burden of being expected to win. The others have nothing to lose and can play with the blitheness of the underdogs.
A large part of the Australian game is built around power the kind of power Matthew Hayden displays in bludgeoning bowling attacks to pulp.|
In fact, I read what Ricky Ponting said about smaller players like himself, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara being on their way out, making way for big guys like Hayden and Kevin Pietersen.
My initial reaction is that Ponting is being modest. I regard him as the best Test and one-day batsman currently playing, and I think guys like Sanath Jayasuriya 5’7” tall and as brutal as they come when it’s a question of power hitting will have something to say about smaller players making way for bigger, more powerful ones.
The only difference between, say, a Hayden and a Sanath is that the former principally hits down the ground while the latter goes square of the wicket, but that’s got nothing to do with size.
The Sri Lankan team is fortunate to possess a combination of various batting and bowling styles, and though we will miss Lasith Malinga on Monday, we believe Dilhara, Maharoof and perhaps Kulasekara will do the job for us in his absence.
Playing Australia, after all, is as much about the psychological advantage that they seek to drive home as about anything else. What we have to think about are the factors that have made Sri Lanka such an exciting team to watch in recent times. We will focus on what works for us instead of worrying about how good Australia are. The whole world knows how good the Aussies are, but they also know what Sri Lanka are capable of.
The underdog is ready to bite.