Australia tour of Sri Lanka 2011, 1st Test: Sri Lanka vs Australia at Galle, Aug 31-Sep 4, 2011.
Match scheduled to begin at 10:00 local time (04:30 GMT, 10 AM IST).
After being blanked in the Twenty20 series, the visitors, on the back of some brilliant performance by the seniors, did well to take the ODI series.
With no Simon Katich, youngster Phillip Hughes will get an extended spell and he will have to put up a string of good scores to cement his place in the side. He will be opening the innings with the big hitting Shane Watson, who has already played a few belligerent innings on this tour. But he must try and convert his starts into big scores, something he has failed to do on a regular basis. The visitors will depend heavily on their middle order to counter the Lankan spin threat. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are in the twilight of their careers and a slip here may bring down the curtains on their playing days. Ponting in particular was in good touch in the ODI series and will look to continue the trend in the longer version as well. Skipper Michael Clarke, who scored a century in the practice game, too was impressive in the one-dayers and is a brilliant player of spin, which will come handy in these conditions. The main selection dilemma for the visitors will be the last specialist batting spot where they have to choose between UsmanKhawaja and Shaun Marsh. While Marsh scored a very composed 70 in the fourth ODI, Khawaja's century in the practice match may turn the tide in his favor.
Sri Lankan teams have often been said to be better suited to ODIs than for Test cricket, and the home side will look to set the record straight this time.
Skipper TillakaratneDilshan will be leading from the front and an explosive start from him will put the Australians on the back foot from the very beginning. His opening partner TharangaParanavitana's inconsistency has been a cause of worry and he will face stiff competition from LahiruThirimanne, who with an unbeaten ton in the tour game, has opened up more options for the selectors. The Lankan batting will, as usual, revolve around the terrific duo of Kumar Sangakkara and MahelaJayawardene. Both were consistent against the Aussies in the limited overs format, and in the longer version would look to bat for long hours against the inexperienced Aussie attack. ThilanSamaraweera has batted well with the lower order and once again he will look to build on the platform set by the top order. The talent Angelo Matthews possesses isn't in doubt, but he needs to put up some credible performance to justify it. As has been the case of late, Sangakkara will be relieved of the keeping duties and PrasannaJayawardene will do the glove work.
Australia Recent Results (LLWLD):
3rd Jan 2011 – vs Eng at Sydney – lost by an innings and 83 runs
26th Dec 2010 – vs Eng at Melbourne – lost by an innings and 157 runs
16th Dec 2010 – vs Eng at Perth – won by 267 runs
03rd Dec 2010 – vs Eng at Adelaide – lost by an innings and 71 runs
25th Nov 2010 – vs Eng at Brisbane – drawn
Sri Lanka Recent Results (DDLDD)
16th Jun 2011 – vs Eng at Southampton – drawn
03rd Jun 2011 – vs Eng at Lord's – drawn
26th May 2011 – vs Eng at Cardiff – lost by an innings and 14 runs
01st Dec 2010 – vs WI at Pallekele – drawn
23rd Nov 2010 – vs WI at Colombo – drawn
Prediction: In the absence of MuttiahMuralitharan, it is hard to see this Lankan side take 20 wickets in home conditions, even if the track does turn square. 400 runs could well be a par score for the first innings, and the team which makes closer to 600 will probably take the advantage as the pitch begins to deteriorate. The teams look ridiculously evenly matched on paper and it appears impossible to pick a winner as things stand.