Sri Lanka are set to bank heavily on their spin attack as they walk in to take on Australia on Wednesday in the two match Test series in Galle.
Galle has been Sri Lanka’s favourite Test venue where a number of spin friendly wickets had produced thrilling victories. But unlike many other Test playing nations, Australia has a better track record in Galle, winning two out of three Tests played.
Most probably Sri Lanka will go with three spinners, with spinning all-rounder Ramesh Mendis set to play lower down the order. The other two spin options are a toss-up among Jeffrey Vandersay, Lasith Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama, while Dhananjaya de Silva, too, can be relied on as a spin bowling option.
Meanwhile, David Warner said Australia’s preparation for the Test series would have been helped by Sri Lanka utilizing their spin bowlers more in the ODI series, but the spin attack in the Test series will be different from the ODIs, except for Jeffery Vandersay who has been recalled.
Australia have included Glenn Maxwell in the Test team. Maxwell has been playing well against the Sri Lankan spinners during the tour, sweeping and reverse sweeping, which Australia hope will come in handy during the Test series.
“I’ve done a bit of red-ball work training-wise; always trying to stay ready just in case, knowing there were a few sub-continent tours coming up, not just this year but next year as well,” said Maxwell ahead of the first Test.
Meanwhile, Travis Head who was out of 5th ODI with an injury after the 4th ODI, was seen training well in Galle yesterday, and it appears he will be ready in two days for the first Test, which will give Australia several options to choose from.
Australia are presently ranked No.1 on the ICC Test Championship table, while Sri Lanka are 4th. A series win will elevate Sri Lanka to 2nd position, while a 2-0 loss will relegate them to 6th place, and 1-0 to 5th place.
Australia faced a 3-0 defeat in the Test series when they last visited Sri Lanka 6 years ago, where the Tests were played first before going on to the white ball series. This time around, they started with the white ball series (T20 and ODI) before moving on to the Test series, which has given most of their players ample time to acclimatize to the conditions, while helping selectors to decide their team based on performance in the white ball series, as well as the ‘A’ team tour which took place concurrently.
“Last time (in Sri Lanka), we probably didn’t do it well enough. We probably second guessed ourselves a bit too much. We proved to ourselves in Pakistan that we had the game plan to do well in the sub-continent. This is one of the better teams of playing spin that I’ve been a part of with the Australian cricket team. I think we’ve learned from past mistakes, and the young guys coming in are learning from the older guys,” said Australia opener Usman Khawaja ahead of first Test.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Cricket in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, had taken a decision to dedicate the 1st Test to Cricket Legend Shane Warne, and stated that Warne’s wife and family members were expected to attend. However, SLC stated there is now some uncertainty as they have not received confirmation from the family to the communication sent to them by SLC via Cricket Australia.
1st Test – 29 June / 3 July
2nd Test – 8-12 July
Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Jeffrey Vandersay.
Standby players: Dunith Wellalage, Lakshitha Rasanjana.
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.
Standby players: Jon Holland, Matthew Kuhnemann, Todd Murphy
By Anjana Kaluarachchi