Australia look to rub it in

In an inconsequential match with a demoralised Lankan outfit, the hosts would look to keep winning.

updated: March 04, 2008 10:10 IST
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Australia will seek to create momentum for the best-of-three tri-series final against India when they take on Sri Lanka in an inconsequential league match here on Friday.

While the hosts will be keen to use the game as a preparation for the tougher battles ahead, the Sri Lankans have only pride at stake in the game as they have already been eliminated from the title race.

The best-of-three finals will begin in Sydney on Sunday and it will be interesting to see whether the Aussies decide to rest some of their key players for the day-night contest.

Australia have won their last four matches in the tri-series and would look to iron out some of their weaknesses in an encounter which is only of academic interest.

They will also look to put the controversies about poor player behaviour behind them after another acrimonious week, which saw opener Matthew Hayden launching a scathing verbal attack against Indian cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma.

Sri Lanka have not been able to compete with the Aussies in the three previous games and it remains to be seen if Mahela Jayawardene can marshal his demoralised troops in order to finish the tour on a winning note.

Australia are treating the game as the beginning of their finals campaign.

"We've certainly taken the approach that our finals campaign starts now," retiring wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist said ahead of the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"You could say it would be better not playing the game and have a clear run into the finals and preparation. But we've got this game to use how we want to use it, and it's not as a practice game. If we get lethargic we lose momentum," Gilchrist said.

It would be up to individual players on how they want to approach the game, he said.

"I'm sure every individual is looking to have their own specific things. I'm sure Ricky (Ponting) will want to back up now, the runs that he's scored, and Symmo (Andrew Symonds).

I've had a few tens, twenties scores since my hundred in Perth, so it would be nice to get a bit of momentum back up."

Australia lost the tri-series finals to England last season and would be keen to win the tournament the last time it is played.

"We don't have that trophy in the cabinet and it's the last tri-series that there will probably ever be.

"It's been an integral part in the success of Australian cricket and the Australian cricket calendar, and indeed the world cricket calendar.

Countries used to covet this trophy and loved to be here," Gilchrist said.

The fact that left-arm wrist spinner Brad Hogg will join the retirement bandwagon after the competition could also inspire the Australians to give a winning farewell to the tweaker.

Sri Lanka have lost four consecutive games since beating India in Canberra more than two weeks ago and Jayawardene wants his team to finish the series on a high.

"No team wants to lose four-five games in a tournament and not have a successful run. Every game we play, we play to win and give everything. Things haven't gone our way, we have one more chance to rectify those things," the Lankan captain said.

Left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson will return to the side after missing the game against India in Sydney last Sunday while Sri Lanka may rest Farveez Maharoof, who has a side strain.

Australia (likely): Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam
Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds,
Michael Hussey, James Hopes, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Mitchell
Johnson, Nathan Bracken.
Sri Lanka (likely): Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Sanath
Jayasuriya, Dilruwan Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Chamara
Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Chaminda
Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ishara
Match starts at 8.45 am (IST).