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November 6, 2010
The Big PictureIn the blue corner is Sri Lanka, the happiest team in the world, the one deservedly still celebrating their first series victory Down Under. Slumped in the really blue corner is Australia, the side trying to avoid setting their worst losing streak in history. It is usually the touring teams that feel this low here, but the faded green and golds have lost their sheen. And the Ashes starts in 19 days.
Sri Lanka's breakthrough tour began with a Twenty20 victory and was followed by a great escape in Melbourne. They then ensured Sunday's third ODI would be a dead rubbed with a controlled victory in Sydney. Sri Lanka are a highly professional outfit with men for any conditions, so not much will bother them at the Gabba.
Australia are currently on a seven-match losing streak in all forms of the game. The last time they won was the first Test against Pakistan in July. Not since 1996 have they lost seven in a row - England also beat them in seven consecutive Tests between 1885 and 1888 - and they have never been defeated in eight straight. Michael Clarke is in charge of making sure that doesn't happen following Ricky Ponting's decision to miss the match to prepare for Tasmania's Sheffield Shield game on Wednesday.
Form guide(most recent first)
Watch out for...Shane Watson looked on the verge of something significant in Sydney before missing a sweep off Muttiah Muralitharan. Now that Watson is a senior player, his team needs him to come off regularly at the top of the order. If that happens the chances of another loss decrease significantly. After chipping in with two wickets at the SCG, he should also enjoy the conditions in Brisbane, his former home.
Mahela Jayawardene has had a quiet series with 19 and 5 in the opening two matches, so expect him to sign off with something sparkling. That Sri Lanka have done so well without him contributing with the bat increases the achievement of a fast-developing unit. (Jayawardene's sharp fielding was responsible for Mitchell Johnson's run-out on Friday.) He likes the Gabba too, with three half-centuries in four innings there.
Team newsWith Ricky Ponting heading to Shield cricket to practice his hook shot, Australia should bring in Callum Ferguson for his first ODI since he hurt his knee in the 2009 Champions Trophy final. Given the conditions in Brisbane, it is unlikely Xavier Doherty will return, but John Hastings could be a chance to replace one of the fast bowlers.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Cameron White, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Callum Ferguson, 7 Steven Smith, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Peter Siddle.
Sri Lanka have no reason to change anything. Kumar Sangakkara has led them well and they will look to the top three to provide them with a solid platform. The seamers Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera should enjoy the Gabba pitch.
Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Mahela Jayawardene, 4 Kumar Sangakkara (capt, wk), 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.
Pitch and conditionsIn the previous game at the Gabba, Queensland were dismissed for 75 and 96 to end the Sheffield Shield fixture in two days. There has been some more sun around this week but it will still be a wicket for the bowlers. A shower or two is forecast for Brisbane on Sunday, with a top temperature of 26.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"It's about time we got back to playing the brand of cricket we know we are capable of and if we do that I am sure we will win some games."
"Sri Lankan cricket seems to be in really good hands going forward."
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