Australia heading for Clean Sweep but can Sri Lanka spring up a surprise?  


Colombo: A lot has changed since the last time Australia beat Sri Lanka on the island nation in 2011. They managed to win the 3-match series 1-0 by winning the first test by a margin of 125 runs. Michael Clarke just took over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting and led the side brilliantly, while Michael Hussey starred with the bat, scoring 463 runs. The only survivor from that series is the off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who made his debut in that series.

Even a lot has changed since the Australians last toured Sri Lanka, which resulted in a 3-0 whitewash in favour of the hosts. Steve Smith’s young team couldn’t cope with the wily old Rangana Herath’s off-spinners on some turning tracks.  But Pat Cummins’ Australian side proved that they aren’t subcontinental pushovers anymore, as evidenced by their recent series victory against a good Pakistan team and their demolition of the hosts in the first test. In a series where they were expected to be tested on some spin-friendly wickets, Australia beat Sri Lanka at their own game in the first test. The win was even more impressive considering that Australia lost the all-important toss and had to bat last.

Australia is playing a very aggressive cricket in this series.

Sri Lanka won a good toss and decided to bat first but their batsmen couldn’t make the most of the opportunity as they folded for just 212 on the first day. The Sri Lankan openers struggled to get going against the pace of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc even though the surface wasn’t assisting the bowlers.  Swepson chipped in with a couple of quick wickets and Nathan Lyon weaved his magic, taking his first 5-wicket haul in the 1st innings of a test match. The Sri Lankan batting was horrendous, to say the least, and lacked application on wickets they were used to. Sri Lanka’s captain and their best batsman, Karunaratne’s struggle against Lyon was probably the defining moment of the game as he was supposed to carry the batting line-up.

Mathews hung around for a bit, trusting his defense and trying to grind it out. But as Dickwella’s innings proved, trying to attack the opposition bowlers was a better approach on this pitch. If the batting in the 1st innings was horrendous, the 2nd innings was beyond hapless as they were bundled out for 113. The Sri Lankan batsmen tried to sweep virtually every ball to the boundary and completely lost confidence in their defensive technique.

Srilankan players have to prove their capacity to fight a strong opponent like Australia

The Aussies, meanwhile, have continued their upward trajectory in subcontinental conditions. It was once again Usman Khawaja who led the way like in Pakistan with a crucial half-century. But the Man of the Match in the opening test Cameroon Green stole the headlines with a splendid 77.  In what was considered to be a career-defining series for Nathan Lyon, he came away with 9 wickets in the test, while Swepson was good in his role as the 2nd spinner.

When: Sri Lanka vs Australia, 2nd test, July 8 to July 12, 10:00 AM SLST, 2:30 PM AEST

Where: Galle International Stadium, Galle

Team Sri Lanka :

Sri Lanka will hope for a better show from both their batsmen and bowlers after a listless performance in the first test. They might be making a few changes to their playing XI for the 2nd test. Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya was dropped from the test squad after a disappointing bowling performance in which he conceded 73 runs in 15 overs without taking a wicket, going at 4.3 runs per over.

Fellow left-arm spinner in the squad, Praveen Jayawickrama, has been ruled out due to COVID-19. The player has been isolated from the rest of the team members, who have all returned negative tests. The hosts have added Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Lakshitha Manasinghe and Prabath Jayasuriya to their squad. None of the four spinners have experience at this level, but at least one of them will make their test debut. Angelo Mathews also completed his isolation period on Tuesday after he tested positive for COVID-19 on day 3 and will be available for selection.

Series has witnessed a good cricket till now and fans hope that Srilanka will fight back

Team Australia :

The visitors don’t have any issues as far as the playing XI is concerned and are unlikely to make any changes. However, it has been confirmed that Ashton Agar has been ruled out of the 2nd test after failing to recuperate from a side strain. Agar was in contention to make a return to the test side in place of Swepson for the first test but the leg-spinner held on to his place. Agar suffered an injury in Australia’s 1st ODI against Sri Lanka. The visitors have added Jon Holland to their 17-man touring squad despite suffering a finger injury before the second 4-day game between Australia A and Sri Lanka A. Travis Head also passed his fitness test, which means Maxwell might have to wait for his return to test cricket.


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