Sri Lanka seek first series win in Australia
Friday, November 5, Sydney
Start time 14.20 local (03.20 GMT)
The Big PictureLosses don't come much more demoralising than the one-wicket defeat Australia suffered on Wednesday. To fail having had the opposition at 8 for 107 chasing 240 is a massive confidence-sapper. Australia have now lost six internationals in a row since July, and three weeks from the first ball of the Ashes that's a worrying position to be in. More immediately, they must find a way to bounce back at the SCG, or Sri Lanka will win a series in Australia for the first time. The Australians will be back under the leadership of Ricky Ponting, who missed Wednesday's game to attend his grandmother's funeral, and after their lacklustre bowling effort to Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga, don't be surprised if there are changes to the attack.
Sri Lanka, for all their joy at achieving one of the most remarkable comeback wins in ODI history, know that they too have much to work on before the second game. Kumar Sangakkara said after the Melbourne triumph that he was disappointed with their fielding, and the incredible efforts of Mathews and Malinga should not mask some top-order worries. The shot selection from several experienced batsmen was poor, none more so than the ugly cross-batted swipe from Chamara Silva, early in his innings, that resulted in him being caught at mid-on off a top edge. There could be a couple of changes to the Sri Lankan side, despite the win, as they aim for a historic series victory down under.
Form guide(most recent first)
Sri Lanka WWWLW
Watch out for...Xavier Doherty made an impressive debut on Wednesday and after his first two overs had the remarkable figures of 3 for 3. He altered his pace and spin cleverly, collecting wickets with his skiddy arm ball as well as his more traditional turning delivery. Doherty should enjoy the Sydney conditions, and will be aiming to add to his World Cup credentials.
It's extremely unusual for Lasith Malinga to be celebrated for his batting, but his maiden half-century was a key part of Sri Lanka's opening win. However, it was easy to forget that he'd also done a fine job with the ball, keeping things tight if not exactly running through the batting order. He is known for his slingy action and speed, but his slower ball is particularly dangerous, as Shane Watson discovered at the MCG.
Ponting will come back and it is likely to be more-or-less a straight swap for the injured Shaun Marsh. Callum Ferguson is in the squad but it is hard to see him ousting any of the existing top six. Steven Smith hurt his back in the field during the series opener and was unable to bowl in the second half of the innings, and if he is rested, Nathan Hauritz would be the natural replacement. The selectors are also keen to see some new faces before the World Cup squad is chosen in early January, so it seems illogical to make the young fast man Mitchell Starc keep carrying the drinks. He probably won't replace Mitchell Johnson, though; despite his wayward bowling on Wednesday, the feeling in the Australian camp is that resting Johnson only makes him rustier.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Cameron White, 7 Steven Smith / Nathan Hauritz, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 John Hastings, 10 Xavier Doherty, 11 Mitchell Starc.
Sri Lanka's top-order batting was a worry at the MCG, and if anyone is in danger of being dropped it is Silva. Jeevan Mendis was the 12th man in the series opener and could come in to calculations, especially as he would give them some more variety in the spin department on a Sydney surface that could provide some turn.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Mahela Jayawardene, 4 Kumar Sangakkara (capt, wk), 5 Chamara Silva / Jeevan Mendis, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.
Pitch and conditionsThe SCG usually offers some spin, and both teams have good slow-bowling options in their line-ups. The forecast for Friday is for isolated showers and a top temperature of 18C.
Stats and trivia
- Australia's six-match losing streak across all formats is their worst since 1996-97, when they suffered six straight defeats to West Indies and Pakistan. Earlier that year they lost seven on the trot, beginning with the final of the Singer World Series in Colombo.
- Sri Lanka have won four of their 14 ODIs at the SCG, including two of ten against Australia
- Doherty's 4 for 46 was the fourth-best bowling effort by an Australian ODI debutant, after Tony Dodemaide, Stuart MacGill and Carl Rackemann
Quotes"We kept bowling bouncers that were chest high rather than head high, we bowled a few wides, we bowled a few slower balls that we didn't land properly, and we didn't really do anything out of the ordinary."
Australia's coach Tim Nielsen knows there is much room for improvement in the bowling department
"Come Sydney, we can't afford to make most of the mistakes we made today and expect this to happen again, because it doesn't happen often. Let's keep our heads down, our feet on the ground and start again."
Kumar Sangakkara wants a more complete performance from his men.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.