Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne January 10, 2013

Sri Lanka seek one-day redemption


Match facts

January 11, MCG
Start time 1420 (0320 GMT)

Big Picture

The great mystery of Sri Lankan cricket is how they can be so disappointing in Tests and yet so impressive in the shorter formats. In part it comes down to personnel, for bowlers like Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis are not in the Test setup but are consistently dangerous in limited-overs matches. Part of it must also be a down to attitude: at times during the Test series, the Sri Lankans clearly lacked the kind of patience that could have helped them challenge Australia, but across 50 overs such a mindset is not a bad thing.

Part of is simply a matter of confidence. Sri Lanka deserve to be bullish entering this five-match series. Last time they played a bilateral one-day series in Australia they won, and in last summer's triangular series they took Australia to a third final. They have also won their past three one-dayers at the MCG, the venue of this first game.

On paper, Sri Lanka appear a much stronger side than in the Tests, and not just because of Malinga and Mendis. Thisara Perera is a fine limited-overs allrounder, Akila Dananjaya is a spinner of potential and mystery, and men such as Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne, who came in for the Sydney Test, should be in their element.

Australia's squad is a mixed bag. There are four uncapped men - Phillip Hughes, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Ben Cutting - but all four are very fine players who deserve their opportunities. At 35, Brad Haddin is back for his first international match in nearly a year, and the team will be led by the T20 captain George Bailey. Their lack of experience is glaring. Missing from this squad are Michael Clarke (221 games), Shane Watson (154), Michael Hussey (185), as well as the less experienced but first-choice David Warner and Matthew Wade.

Australia have made no secret of the fact that this squad has been chosen with tours of India and England in mind, as well as the 2015 World Cup. But in the meantime, are they good enough to beat a dangerous Sri Lanka team picked as much for the present as the future?

Form guide

(Most recent first)
Australia WLWWL
Sri Lanka WWWLL

In the spotlight

Aaron Finch has been in irresistible limited-overs form this summer and has a chance to make his name as an ODI player. The leading run scorer in the Ryobi Cup this season with 497 runs at 99.40 and in the Big Bash League with 309 runs at 77.25, his powerful striking has been one of the major reasons the Melbourne Renegades have been the dominant team in the Twenty20 tournament. He even hit the roof at Etihad Stadium with one enormous stroke in December. Finch has played three Twenty20 internationals and performed well, and now he has his chance in the 50-over game. Finch will open the batting and his home crowd will be hoping to witness something memorable in his first ODI.

Just as Finch is the BBL's top run scorer, Lasith Malinga is its leading wicket taker with 13 at 10.69 for the Melbourne Stars. He mesmerised the Perth Scorchers with 6 for 7 and Sri Lanka hope he will carry that kind of form into this series. His slingy action disguises his accurate, swinging yorkers, deceptive slower balls and dangerous bouncers and along with the spinner Ajantha Mendis, he could be the most important player in the series.

Team news

Australia have confirmed their line-up, with Cutting and Steven Smith the men to sit out of this game. Finch and Hughes will open, with Khawaja at first drop, while Glenn Maxwell is expected to bat in the top six.

Australia 1 Phillip Hughes, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 David Hussey, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty.

"We haven't finalised [the team] but the two quicks who had the niggles, Kulasekara and Eranga, both are pretty fit, both bowled yesterday so we'll let them go through their bowling routines today and make a call after that," Mahela Jayawardene said on Thursday.

Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Ajantha Mendis / Rangana Herath.

Pitch and conditions

There was a little more pace and bounce than expected during the MCG Test and the pitch should be dry, given Melbourne's forecast of 37C for the day of the match.

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka have won the past three ODIs between these teams at the MCG
  • Mitchell Johnson is the only member of Australia's squad who has played 100 one-day internationals
  • George Bailey will become the 21st man to captain Australia in ODIs


"Watching a few of the replays of the games last year there were some great contests. I don't think playing in Australian conditions holds many fears for the Sri Lankans in the one-day format."
George Bailey

"The last time we won a series here was under Kumar when we came before the World Cup. Since then we've had a lot of success in Australia."
Mahela Jayawardene

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on January 11, 2013, 10:21 GMT

    Agreed @Meety and much amusement at the'other' me's posts. Also some hilarity at the levels to which they're prepared to take it and the lack of skills to do so.My observations are that in seeing half a dozen player results that appear to be the same, there is a general assumption that all the causes must be the same.There are numerous examples. Watson is generally deemed to have brain explosions,lack back-bone or suffer nerves.Not once have I read that the obvious connecting theme could be and is fatigue caused by rapid loss of electrolytes in a muscular physique.Shaun Marsh was deemed to have class and pedigree despite an ordinary record.Injury records,opponents & conditions he scored in and attitude were never discussed. Khawaja has talent but gives every indication of lacking the energy and will power to deliver on that promise.There is an element of political correctness gone mad in the willingness to avoid prima facie evidence. I hope he succeeds but like you, lack conviction.

  • Andrew on January 11, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    @hyclass on (January 11 2013, 06:23 AM GMT) - yep, I have also assumed that there is one person with multiple identies on here. I don't know what your "other you" is supposed to be, it's a pretty poor parady IMO. As for Khawaja, ultimately I am loathe to bang on much about an average of 39 in a Shield season. IMO - he has shown enuff for me to be confident he will do well at Test level, but I have my eyes wide open in that regard & fingers crossed. Early days - but Khawaja's fielding seems to be sharp - running between wickets not so!!!!!!

  • Harmon on January 11, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    Logic exhibited by most SL and some other fans:

    1. Sri Lanka are a top class ODI side cos they reached the finals of WC 2011. 2. Ind are a poor ODI side even though they reached the finals of WC 2011.

    One can clearly see how comical their reasoning is.

    Apparently they do not think it is all that difficult to win a World Cup at home and will ack a WC win ONLY if it came away form home. But hey, Ind did that too in 1983. In fact they even won the 1985 World Series in Aus i.e away from home. Yet these fans never correct their wrong beliefs.

    As for winning-WC-at-home-is-easy theory, who else has done it? NONE. Eng have hosted the WC 4 times so far, cudn't even reach the finals 3 times HaHa. Aus cudn't make the SF at home WC, SA crashed in the 1st round itself in 03.

    In WC 2011, why were the other nations unable to do the DIFF task of winning WC away from home? They can't win at home nor away. SL won at home in 2011 and failed away too. Yet they are good but Ind bad?

    You Hypocrites.

  • Christopher on January 11, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    @Meety...with due respect, Ive been hearing various extreme versions of that theme from certain Khawaja-files on here for the last two seasons.At least one has numerous profiles, even on this blog including trying to copy my blog name to make his point. Averages are an excellent reference point because they give a picture over time against varied opponents and in different conditions. Your view is a hypothesis formed from an observation of evidence. An alternative view of the same evidence might be that the other batsmen were very sub-standard. Khawaja certainly had the advantage of having played CC leading into the Shield season.Regardless of perspective, his average is what it is-11 runs lower than it was when he was first selected for Tests. His results then were identical to Bevan's in S/R and average-not a great recommendation. I acknowledge that he is playing more aggressively and I believe he has talent but the observations of Inverarity summed up their views of his status.

  • Dale on January 11, 2013, 4:01 GMT


    I'd hardly call Sri Lanka an "extraordinarily weak team" they are a very strong ODI team after all they made the world cup final 2 years back. Granted they are down a few players but they are still a very strong limited overs side. Don't let their test performances fool you

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    I think the new rules have changed so much for the fast bowlers. It will be interesting to see how both teams cope up with that. Being a cricket fan, I hope to see good contests in this series.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 2:40 GMT

    @ An_offside_ran, I totally agree with your team selection, though I think Chandimal should play wkt keeper/batsman in T20 & ODI, I mean of AB De V, Matt Wade, Keiswetter, Sanga, McCullun and even Dhoni could do it then Chandi should do it with flying colours. I would like to see Thiri in the middle order and Dimuth K as an opener, however that will depend on whether Sanga wil play on or not.

  • BOB on January 11, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    Sri Lanka will not be backed out , because of failed Test series, Everyone knows that Sri Lankan team is always better than Indian team no matter what. Win or loose, Lankans will have fun always. Not like Indians we dont burn houses or throw stones at players then they loose :)

  • Hamish on January 11, 2013, 1:50 GMT

    With 1 batsman in the top 6 having played more than 20 matches the selectors really should have included Mike Hussey in the squad. Even with him and his brother there the team would look extremely light on for experience. Play him in all the matches, rotate the less experienced players around him, david and Bailey (as the captain he's got to play) and you'd still be able to get a reasonable idea of the new ones.

    As far as the best Australian One day team goes even if he doesn't bowl Watson's got a better claim to be in that than most (average 41, strike rate 88), certainly better than Warner (average 30, strike rater 81)

    If he does bowl he's got to be near the first one picked - and he might end up bowling in the shorter forms but not in tests.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 1:12 GMT

    Why dont they give chance to "Angelo Perera"?He is a good allround player,who've got Slow left arm bowling ability..He scored many Runs in this year's List A tournament,and smashed most number of sixers..