High on confidence, Sri Lanka will walk into the first of the five match ODI series with Australia today in Pallekele, which will be a day/night encounter.
Skipper Dasun Shanaka, who delivered an unlikely win, said that the team is mentally strong, and the series will depend mostly on the batters. Sri Lanka is coming back from two recent ODI series wins at home – against Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Sri Lanka will be playing on the same wicket as the last T20, and Shanaka reckons it will be a spinning wicket and the team will be going in with a combination of three spinners. Along with that decision, Sri Lanka youth all-rounder Dunith Wellalage is set to make his debut in today’s match where his left arm spin will come in handy.
Sri Lanka has problems with their middle order batting which was highlighted during the last T20 series, though skipper Shanaka was skeptical about taking the T20 batting into consideration when discussing the ODIs.
However, inclusion of players like Dhananjaya de Silva in the squad will provide a solution to the middle order consolidation part before Shanaka and co. take charge, as Sri Lanka will be going with the same combination at the top with Danushka Gunathilaka and Pathum Nissanka to open.
Shanaka also said that selectors are now looking at Kusal Mendis as a wicketkeeper/batter even for ODIs, with Niroshan Dickwella also fighting for the same spot. Dickwella made a statement scoring 83 opening the inning for Sri Lanka A in their win against Australia A four days ago and knocking at the ODI door once again. But it will be Mendis who is set to get the call to bat at number three while keeping wicket, while Charith Asalanka will bat at number four above Dhananjaya de Silva. Skipper Shanaka will bat at number 6 followed by Chamika Karunarathne and Wanindu Hasaranga, meaning Sri Lanka will have plenty of bowling options in the line-up.
Australia have already named their playing XI a day before the game. Pat Cummins returns to the XI, and with ICC Test No.1 ranked batter Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith in the middle order, Australia has a formidable XI.
They will, however, lose the services of paceman Kane Richardson who has been ruled out from the series due to an injury. Richardson, who was added to the one-day squad as cover for injured fast bowler Mitchell Starc, suffered a ‘fairly severe hamstring injury’ during Saturday’s third Twenty20 match, a Cricket Australia spokesperson said on Monday.
Richardson will be flying home and has been replaced by fast bowler Scott Boland for the series starting on Tuesday.
Left-armer Starc required six stitches on the index finger of his bowling arm, while all-rounder Mitchell Marsh is nursing a calf strain.
Both players are expected to be available for the third match of the series on Sunday, Australia captain Aaron Finch said. The series will not be part of the ICC Super League, hence teams will lose out earning points for placement in the Super League table.
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Steven Smith, 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Alex Carey (wk), 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Jhye Richardson, 11, Josh Hazlewood
Sri Lanka: 1. Pathum Nissanka, 2. Danushka Gunathilaka, 3. Kusal Mendis, 4. Charith Asalanka, 5. Dhanajaya de Silva, 6. Dasun Shanaka (Capt), 7. Chamika Karunarathne, 8. Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, 9. Dushmantha Chameera, 10. Dunith Wellalage, 11. Maheesh Theekshana
By Anjana Kaluarachchi in Pallekele