Australia gear for must-win Sri Lanka clash
Ricky Ponting's Australia must perform or face an embarrassing early exit from the World Twenty20 when they take on emotionally-charged Sri Lanka on Monday. The Australians, stunned by a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of the WI on Saturday, cannot afford another loss.cricket Updated: Jun 07, 2009 17:03 IST
Ricky Ponting's Australia must perform or face an embarrassing early exit from the World Twenty20 when they take on emotionally-charged Sri Lanka on Monday.
The Australians, stunned by a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of the West Indies on Saturday following Chris Gayle's explosive 88 off 50 balls, cannot afford another loss.
Even if they emerge victorious, Ponting's men are not assured of advancing to the Super Eights because a Sri Lankan win over the West Indies on Wednesday will throw up a three-way tie to be decided by net run-rate.
The loss to the West Indies with 4.1 overs to spare could spell further disaster for Australia, who must not only beat Sri Lanka, but do so by a big margin to improve their net run-rate.
"It all lies ahead of us," Ponting said ahead of the group C match at Trent Bridge.
"We know exactly what we have to do and if we are good enough, we we get it done."
The defeat against the West Indies was Australia's fourth Twenty20 loss in a row.
The shortest version of the game has not been particularly kind to the undisputed kings of Test and one-day cricket, who have won only 11 of their 22 games so far.
Ponting, however, was quick to stress that all was not lost for his team.
Australia suffered a shock defeat by Zimbabwe in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, but still managed to reach the semi-finals where they lost to eventual champions India.
"This form of the game can change very quickly," Ponting said. "We're in exactly the same position as we were last time.
"I guess some of the guys that were in the tournament last time will know what we have to do. There is nowhere else where we can go now."
Sri Lanka will be charged up for their first international match since the horrific terror attack on their team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore in March while on their way to resume a Test match.
Seven Sri Lankan cricketers and an assistant coach were injured in the attack, which left eight Pakistanis dead.
Kumar Sangakkara, leading Sri Lanka for the first time after good friend Mahela Jayawardene quit the job after the Pakistan tour, said the team looked forward to the game against Australia.
"The pressure will be on them, but we are not taking victory for granted," said Sangakkara. "They will come hard at us and we have to be ready to stand tall.
"We know a side must win at least one game to stay in the race. We have just got to take our chances."
Sangakkara wanted his team to qualify for the semi-finals after being stuck in the Super Eights stage in 2007.
"We have a great mix in both batting and bowling, but at the end of the day it all depends on executing your plans well," he said.
"I am not sure Twenty20 is only a slog. One still needs to plan an innings to ensure you get a good total on the board."
First Published: Jun 07, 2009 16:57 IST