It was disheartening to see unseasonal torrential downpour come in the way of a contest that was developing into an engrossing one. Sri Lanka and Australia will be happy with sharing a point each from the crucial Group A match at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. No team held a clear upper hand when rain stopped play in the 33rd over of the Sri Lanka innings.
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara called correctly at the toss and decided to bat first. They excluded Nuwan Kulasekara from the eleven that played against Kenya. This was to accommodate three spinners – Muthiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath. Australia named an unchanged squad from the match against New Zealand.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was straightaway in the thick of the action in a needless confrontation with Shaun Tait. He soon lost his concentration and edged to second slip where Cameron White held the catch. The Aussie seamers bowled a good line and length and the batsmen could not score freely. Tharanga tried to break the shackles with a slash against Lee but found Steve Smith at point take a well judged catch.
Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara then steadied things. Both the batsmen found edges through the vacant slip region. A leg glance and a cover drive fetched boundaries for Jayawardene while Sangakkara played a delightful straight drive that kissed the ropes at the long off boundary. Just when the partnership was threatening to shift gears, Jayawardene was run out. He hesitated in responding to Sangakkara’s call for a sharp single and Steve Smith’s throw hit the stumps to leave him short of the crease.
Thilan Samaraweera joined Sangakkara to spruce things up. However, a tight Australian bowling was hard to get away. More importantly, the pitch showed signs of considerable slowness and spin. Jason Krejza, the off spinner, was able to turn the ball away from the left handed Sangakkara repeatedly. As the clouds gathered, it was evident Sri Lanka were preserving wickets for the rain interruption and the possibility of the Duckworth/Lewis method being used.
When the rains finally came, it was so heavy that the ground was a pool of water despite being covered in entirety. Even if the rains stopped, a miracle was needed to resume the match again. The crowd was robbed of an even contest between bat and ball as the match was finally abandoned. It would have been interesting to see what target Sri Lanka would have set and the Australian batsmen’s response to Lasith Malinga and the spin trio.