Good morning and welcome to coverage of Australia vs Sri Lanka from Lucknow, a meeting of winless sides desperate to get their campaigns moving forward after chastening starts. As Australia and England fans engage in tit for tat days of euphoric schadenfreude, it is important to remember that Australia have been beaten (yes, heavily) by India and South Africa, Sri Lanka by South Africa and Pakistan, better ranked sides than England’s conquerors, New Zealand and Afghanistan.
Both Sri Lanka, winners in 1996, and Australia, world champions in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015, will, like England, take some solace from Pakistan’s dreadful start in 1992 until they made like cornered tigers (L, W, NR, L, L, W. W, W, W, W) and Australia’s in 1999 (L, L, W, W, W, W, W, T, W) to encourage themselves that early defeats can be overcome. Sri Lanka, at least, have made runs (326 against South Africa, 344 vs Pakistan) but have demonstrated the imbalance in strength between the two disciplines by allowing South Africa to make 428 and Pakistan 345 with 10 balls to spare.
Australia, by contrast, have bowled pretty well though they lack a top-class spinner, but their batting (199 and 177, both all out) has illustrated how thin their resources are, relying again on Test stalwarts such as Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne in the same side, adopting an approach that, like the England football team used to do at World Cups, that was in vogue a couple of tournaments earlier.
Still, with Travis Head approaching a return following his broken hand and the batsman-keeper position changed after one match, the culmination of Alex Carey’s dramatic loss of form since the Lord’s Test, they are trying to adapt on their feet. Australia, having played South Africa at Lucknow on Thursday, ought to be able to find their fluency against spin second time around but one slip and their goose will be well and truly cooked.