Although Australia were stunned by Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Adelaide, it had more to do with the lack of experience in their batting than sensational performance by the Lankan bowlers. Yes, with all credit to the Lankan bowlers, they bowled exceedingly well to restrict the home batsmen, but they were definitely aided to an extent considering the fact that most of the batters in the Aussie line-up were short on international exposure. Being so, it is to Australia’s credit that they will be going into the third game at Brisbane with the series squared.
The return of the big players to the squad will undoubtedly give the Aussies a boost as they look to make a comeback into the series. Michael Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade will have to play a major role in the same. The Aussie selectors took a courageous but fair decision to give them a break from international cricket, even if was a short one, considering the workload the trio has carried on its shoulders in the last year or so. This is definitely something the Indian selectors can take a cue from. Will they is a different matter altogether.
Warner will be critical to Australia’s chances at the top of the order. He will be replacing Aaron Finch, but more significantly, he will be partnering Phillip Hughes, who made a blistering century on ODI debut in the opening match. If Warner and Hughes can fire as a pair, they can thwart the Lankan bowling line-up upfront, which looked exceedingly potent at Adelaide. In a similar vein, the return of Clarke and Wade will also give the Lankan bowlers a lot more to think about. So far they have had to deal with raw Aussie talent, but Clarke and Wade are in a different zone when it comes to batting.
The Australian selectors have also recalled all-rounder Moises Henriques, whom people back in India would remember as someone who shone for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Henriques has been in very good domestic form this season, which has earned him an international recall after four years. With Shane Watson returning to his injured ways, the Aussies have been forced to look elsewhere. For the moment, they have placed their faith in Henriques, who can bowl seaming deliveries, as well as hit the big strokes while batting down the order.
Among those dropped, the likes of Finch, Usman Khwaja, Steven Smith, Ben Cutting and Kane Richardson might consider themselves unlucky to have been omitted from the squad after being given limited opportunities. The other way to look at it though is that they were lucky to have gotten a chance in the first place. Had the selectors chosen a full-strength batting line up at the first go, they wouldn’t have made it to the squad in the first place itself. That they did was a plus for them as well as the future of Australian cricket. The strengthened Aussies can now concentrate on winning the series against a confident Sri Lankan outfit.
--By A Cricket Analyst