Australia v Sri Lanka, Wednesday 3 November, 2.20pm (AEDST) at MCG (Channel 9)
During its recent tour of India, Australia lost its only One Day International match by five wickets, with the other two scheduled games abandoned due to heavy rain. Before that series, the Australians lost to England 2-3, defeated New Zealand 3-2 and only beat lowly ranked Ireland by 39 runs.
The Sri Lankans have played a lot of one-day cricket during 2010 and have enjoyed plenty of success as well. They won a triangular series against New Zealand and India at home, made the Asian Cup final only to lose to India by 81 runs and won a triangular series against India and Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe.
But most importantly, Sri Lanka comprehensively defeated Australia by seven wickets at the WACA last Sunday night. It was only a one-off Twenty20 match, but it might have a major say on this series in terms of momentum.
It was good to see wicketkeeper Brad Haddin make such a successful comeback to international competition on Sunday night after a long-standing elbow injury saw him miss up to seven months of action. The 33-year-old compiled a timely 35 runs from 30 balls under enormous pressure after his side collapsed to 5-43 in the 11th over. Tasmania’s Tim Paine did a magnificent job for his country during Haddin’s absence, but the New South Welshman has every right to walk straight back into the team because he is the established keeper for Australia in all forms of the game. With Ricky Ponting to miss the match due to the death of his grandmother, Shaun Marsh should open the batting with Shane Watson while Haddin will come in down the order.
Sri Lanka’s vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene is one of his country’s most successful cricketers of all time. His ability on the cricket field is unquestionable with over 9,000 runs in both Tests and One-Day internationals during a career spanning over 13 years. The 33-year-old is one of the most elegant, stylish and fruitful batsmen in the world who personifies class when he’s at the crease. However we recently saw just how damaging he can be when he’s in an aggressive frame of mind, smashing 24 runs from just 16 balls in Sunday night’s Twenty20 match. If Jayawardene can get his team off to a solid start, Sri Lanka will be very hard to beat.
PITCH AND CONDITIONS:
The MCG pitch is traditionally a batsmen-friendly one, accompanied by a little bit of extra pace and bounce for the fast bowlers. But it was fascinating to see orthodox spinner Xavier Doherty produce sharp turn off the wicket during the recent Sheffield Shield match between Tasmania and Victoria. The weather forecast for Melbourne’s city centre is for a shower or two with a maximum temperature of 16 degrees. Therefore, we will probably get a slight delay in play and the game will likely be reduced to fewer than 50 overs per side.
It’s good to see that the Australian selectors have chosen close to a full-strength squad for the three-game series. However Doug Bollinger hasn’t been selected because he is being given plenty of time to recover from an abdominal injury he suffered in India. He is aiming to be fit for the start of the Ashes series later this month. One player who can consider himself unlucky for not being selected in the squad is Callum Ferguson, who smashed 129 runs from 143 deliveries in a recent Sheffield Shield match for South Australia against Western Australia. Tasmania’s Doherty is also set to make his One Day International debut as well.
- Shane Watson
- Shaun Marsh
- Michael Clarke (C)
- Cameron White
- Michael Hussey
- Brad Haddin (WK)
- Steven Smith
- John Hastings
- Mitchell Johnson
- Xavier Doherty
- Peter Siddle
- Mitchell Starc
Two players who weren’t playing in Sunday night’s Twenty20 match were Upul Tharanga and Chamara Silva. Both players are important inclusions because they have played in Australia before and understand how to handle the different conditions. Suraj Randiv and Dilhara Fernando haven’t played for their country a lot during 2010, but plenty of wickets in recent matches mean they are definitely in contention for selection against the Aussies.
- Mahela Jayawardene
- Tillakaratne Dilshan
- Upul Tharanga
- Kumar Sangakkara (C & WK)
- Chamara Silva
- Chamara Kapugedera
- Angelo Mathews
- Thisara Perera/Suraj Randiv
- Nuwan Kulasekera/Dilhara Fernando
- Lasith Malinga
- Muttiah Muralitharan
The Australians have never lost a one-day series against Sri Lanka on home soil. But they need to produce a complete form reversal if they want to make a statement before the Ashes series. Their loss to the Sri Lankans last Sunday was the first time they had ever lost a Twenty20 match on home soil.
In fact the Aussies haven’t won an international encounter since they defeated Pakistan by 150 runs in a Test match at Lords last July. They’re currently the top ranked One Day International side in the world but are playing nowhere near that class at the moment.
Sri Lanka made it clear last Sunday that they are here to win and make a statement. The Sri Lankan selectors have picked a well balanced squad for this tour and the team will use their Twenty20 win as a catalyst to perform well in the upcoming three-match series.
But the Australians will be desperate to win this game. It’s so important that they do if they want to build momentum going into the much anticipated Test series against England. Surely they’ll be switched on for this match and bounce back after a five-game losing streak.