Melbourne, Mar 1: India will have to wait for one more day to learn their finals' fate. Whether they extend their stay in Australia or take a flight back home will depend on the outcome of Sri Lanka-Australia match here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday.
A win by the home team puts India into the finals along with them. However, a Sri Lankan victory or even a tie or no result will knock India out of the tri-series.
This is the last day of the league phase and the 12th and last match has turned out to be a do-or-die battle for Sri Lanka, led by Mahela Jayawardene. In a way, it is a big day for Team India as well even without being there!
At the moment, Australia have already entered the best-of-three finals with 19 points. They are on top of the table, followed by Sri Lanka (15) and India (15).
Even though the Asian neighbours will end up on equal points if Sri Lanka are to lose on Friday, India will edge them out on the basis of head-to-head record. India have beaten Sri Lanka twice and lost one while the other was a tie.
Sri Lanka's chances brightened a little on the eve of the match with Australian captain Michael Clarke ready to be rested ahead of the finals. Clarke is recovering from a hamstring problem and the selectors don't want to risk him for this game.
It will hand Shane Watson the captaincy responsibility once again. He claimed victory in his previous leadership role against India in Sydney since returning from injury.
Sri Lanka, after notching a hat-trick of wins, faltered against India in Hobart. It was Virat Kohli's show all the way at the Bellerive Oval on Tuesday as India chased down 321 in less than 37 overs for an astonishing bonus-point success.
Australia will welcome back young pace sensation James Pattinson. He missed the tri-series action due to an injury after troubling he Indian batsmen during the initial part of the Test series.
The hosts will be keen to win here and go into the Sunday's first final with confidence. However, Sri Lanka cannot be taken lightly. They have been in good form barring the onslaught of Kohli in Hobart.
Lasith Malinga will have to forget the demolition from Kohli and start fresh here.
In their previous four games, Sri Lanka have remained unchanged. They might stick to the same combination.
Australia will rely on pace to unsettle the Islanders. Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty has been doing an exceptional job by bowling economical spells and he would want to continue in the same way.
Their batting will rest on the shoulders of David Hussey and Peter Forrest. Opener David Warner too regained touch with a half century against India and he can do well again.
Sri Lanka had twin tons from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara but still lost against India. The duo, along with Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal will have to bat well again.
Dhoni admitted that he won't be watching the game and will be busy shopping since it is not in his hands. Wherever Dhoni is, he and his team-mates will be keenly following the happenings in Melbourne.
Australia: Shane Watson (captain), David Warner, Peter Forrest, Daniel Christian, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay, Brett Lee.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Farveez Maharoof, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Chanaka Welegedera, Dhammika Prasad.
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pakistan) and Rod Tucker (Australia)
Third Umpire: Simon Fry (Australia)
Match Referee: Chris Broad (England)
Match starts at 8.50 AM IST
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