Australia face a very tough task today when they take on Sri Lanka in the final Group A match in the ICC Champions Trophy, fighting to stay in the tournament, and hence, fighting to retain their crown.
But a victory for the defending champions might still not be enough to see them reach the semi-finals as their net run rate is inferior to that of their neighbours, New Zealand. Sri Lanka almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when they lost to the Black Caps by one wicket in defending 138. The Islanders then defeated England comprehensively, chasing down a target of 294 with 17 balls remaining, thanks to an undefeated century from Kumar Sangakkara.
Had rain not intervened in the match between Australia and New Zealand, the equation could have been quite different for Australia. Be that as it may, you have to play with the cards you are dealt. The fraccus around David Warner’s tussle with Joe Root has not helped their cause either. But the incident could just be the catalyst that the champions need to lift their game, just like the Shane Warne incident did for them in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
But i do not think that it will, as Mickey Aurther is not the right coach and the team does not have the same quality to it that their predecessors had 10 years ago. The rift between Aurther and some of the players that occured during their tour to India last year has yet to heal, in my personal opinion. Aurther was not able to turn South Africa into a dominant force and he has yet to do the same with Australia.
Sri Lanka will have to bank on their star players like Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, with Lasith ‘Slinger’ Malinga leading the bowling attack. These players will have to front up to the Australians if they are to secure a semi-final berth.
Perhaps a defeat for Australia today may just be a blessing in disguise, so that they can run home and prepare themselves for an Ashes battle with England that will certainly test them to their limits. I think that should Australia suffer badly at the hand of the English, then Auther’s tenure as head coach might just be at an end. Despite the loss of many talented players, i think that Aurther has turned the defending champs into defending chumps.