2014 World Champions will take on Ireland in the eighth game of the 2021 Twenty20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi this evening. The Group A encounter will get underway at 7.30pm. A win for Sri Lanka this evening will all but guarantee a place in the Super 12 stage.
The Lankans outmuscled Namibia in their tournament opener by 7 wickets. The bowlers skittled the Namibians out for 96 runs and then Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Avishka Fernando helped Sri Lanka cross the line in just 13.3 overs. All five bowlers used by skipper Dasun Shanaka picked up wickets against Namibia with Maheesh Theekshana finishing with 3/25. However, skipper Shanaka will be concerned about the top order batting form as Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera and Dinesh Chandimal all departed cheaply in the tournament opener. This evening they’ll be up against a far superior bowling line-up.
Like Sri Lanka, Ireland won their opening match by 7 wickets against the Netherlands. The win was scripted by Curtis Campher, who etched his name in history by taking four wickets in consecutive deliveries, becoming only the third bowler in Men’s T20Is after Lasith Malinga and Rashid Khan to accomplish the feat. He was complimented extremely well by Mark Adair, who finished with figures of 3/9. Skipper Andy Balbirnie will be hoping for an encore of that performance against Sri Lanka today. However, it will be the Irish batters, who will have their task cut out against the quality and the variety of the Sri Lankan bowling unit.
Ireland looks a well-settled team and would not want to tinker too much with a winning combination, while they would be hoping for their star batters at the top of the order, Kevin O’brien and captain Balbirnie, to come good in the all-important clash against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also expected to retain the same plying XI although Charith Asalanka who has played some important innings in recent matches could balance the side better in place of Dinesh Chandimal.
The Abu Dhabi deck is better suited for the Sri Lankan batting style although the toss could have a big impact due to dew on the ground, particularly in the second innings. Sri Lanka has defeated Ireland by nine runs in the lone T20I played between the two nations.
Prediction: A win for Sri Lanka