Sri Lanka seek to consolidate position in tri-series

Sri Lanka will face a tough test when they take on world champions Australia in a cricket tri-series one-dayer on Friday.

updated: March 04, 2008 09:52 IST
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Bouncing back into reckoning with a win over India, Sri Lanka will face a tough test when they take on world champions Australia in a cricket tri-series one-dayer on Friday.

The much-needed eight-wicket victory against India in a rain-truncated game in Canberra on Tuesday has served as a tonic for the islanders who will now look to consolidate their position by putting it across the hosts at the WACA.

The weather has really played spoilsport in the series so far with two matches being abandoned and one affected by rain but the met office has predicted a sunny day on Friday, providing the perfect setting for what promises to be an absorbing contest between two talented teams.

The Australians, however, will have a distinct advantage as the visitors will have to quickly come to terms with the pacy track at the WACA where India recorded one of their greatest overseas Test triumphs nearly a month ago.

The Indians are currently on top of the points table with eight points from four matches while Australia were just one point behind them from three matches. Sri Lanka are at the bottom of the table with seven points from three games.

As per the tournament format, all the three teams will play against each other four times before the two top teams qualify for the best-of-three finals.

Although the Australians seemed to have a settled line-up, the form of their captain Ricky Ponting has been a worrying factor and the flamboyant right-hander will be keen to get some runs under his belt.

Ricky Ponting has been dismissed by Ishant Sharma a few times in the series so far and will be happy at the prospect of facing a bowling attack which does not have the gangling Indian paceman.

The hosts have made two changes in the playing XI they fielded against their last match against India in Melbourne with James Hopes and Brad Hogg coming in place of Stuart Clark and Brad Haddin.

The Sri Lankans have not shown the desired consistency in the series and captain Mahela Jayawardene wants his players to work on this aspect of the game to be able to pose a threat to stronger teams.

"The last game (against India) was crucial for us and we showed character. Winning the toss was an advantage and even though they batted really well, we planned the chase brilliantly," Jayawardene said.

"All three teams will need to be consistent in order to do well in the series from now on," he said.

The Lankans had gone into the last match with five specialist bowlers at the expense of opener Upul Tharanga and it remains to be seen whether they deploy the same strategy against the world champions.

It, however, looks unlikely that they would weaken their batting line-up by going for the additional bowler for a game which was not expected to be affected by the weather. The pace and bounce of the WACA pitch will also influence them to strengthen the batting.

The Lankans will largely depend on the marauding Sanath Jayasuriya to provide a flying start to the team and unsettle the likes of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken.

Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan are also quite capable of destroying any bowling attack on their day.

The bowling is vastly experienced, too, with spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas getting support from the young Lasith Malinga and Ferveez Maharoof. The spin of Dilshan and Jayasuriya gives them the variety.

Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Ferveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Upul Tharanga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Chanaka Welegedara, Ishara Amarsinghe.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey, James Hopes, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Bracken.

Hours of play: 10.00 am to 1.30 pm, 2.15 pm to 5.45 pm (IST).