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January 17, 2013
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has said his side is undaunted by the return of Australia's captain and several of their other key players for the third ODI in Brisbane, and is confident Sri Lanka can maintain the momentum earned with their eight-wicket victory in Adelaide on Sunday.
Michael Clarke sat out the first two games as he recovered from a hamstring strain, while David Warner was also rested for the first two ODIs. Fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson were also left out for the second ODI in Adelaide, and will likely return for Friday's match at the Gabba.
Sri Lanka suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of what was held by some to be an Australia 'B' team in Melbourne, before they rebounded to level the series comfortably. But Jayawardene said it would be his side's good form in Australia in recent years that has Sri Lanka believing they can achieve a series win. The teams have played each other in 12 ODIs in Australia since 2010, and Sri Lanka have won on seven of those occasions.
"It's good to have Davy [Warner] and Michael back, but we'll prepare the same way," Jayawardene said. "When we played them last year, we had a good outing against them. We just need to change our game plan a little bit and execute those plans to those guys."
Jayawardene said a turnaround from the bowlers had been key to his side's impressive second performance, where they dismissed Australia for 170 on a seam-friendly pitch. Sri Lanka have three allrounders in their preferred XI in addition to three frontline bowlers, and also have the offspin of Tillakaratne Dilshan at their disposal, giving Jayawardene seven reliable bowling options in all.
"In Melbourne, we were not up to standard. Especially with the ball - we bowled too many four balls. In Adelaide we had a bit more help from the surface and we bowled good areas and created opportunities. If we can keep up that pressure with the spinners we have and the allrounders, we have a well-balanced side. Even though we are missing players through injury, and are fiddling around a little with our line-up, we're pretty comfortable."
Sri Lanka are unsure about the fitness of Dinesh Chandimal, who sustained a hamstring strain in the course of making a half-century in the first ODI. Chandimal missed the Adelaide match, with reserve keeper Kushal Janith Perera stepping in, and had not yet returned to full fitness on the eve of the Brisbane match.
"We haven't decided on an XI because we want to give Dinesh another 24 hours to see how he pulls up. He did bat yesterday and had a few run-throughs, and he pulled up pretty well. We just wanted to give him a little more time. Kushal kept wickets pretty well and batted pretty well, but we'll make the final call when we see the pitch, and we can decide if we need to change our combination with the bowling attack."
Jayawardene has also been a vocal critic of the new ODI rule that only allows four fielders outside the 30-yard circle at any time in the match, and his opinion on the issue had not changed since his side played the first match under the new regulations in October last year.
"I'm not a big fan of the new rule. I thought the last product we had was pretty decent. The two new balls gives the quicks a bit more venom - which is great, but the downside with the field restrictions is that the spinners are taken away from the game. It's challenging, but I think it's restricting the bowlers more and the batsmen are having a free hand."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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