Australia v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Sydney January 19, 2013

Sri Lanka seek another series win


Match facts

January 20, SCG
Start time 1420 (0320 GMT)

Big Picture

Just as the Test series between these two teams was decided with one match still to play, the one-day battle could be done and dusted before the teams fly to Hobart for the fifth and final game. Through outstanding swing bowling over the past two matches in Adelaide and Brisbane, Sri Lanka have positioned themselves so that in Sydney on Sunday they can become the first team ever to secure two bilateral one-day series triumphs against Australia in Australia. South Africa have done it once, in 2008-09. So have Pakistan, in the winter of 2002. Sri Lanka did it with a 2-1 success in early 2010-11. But no team has done it twice - yet.

Sri Lanka were disappointing in the Tests, no question, but a one-day series win would at least allow them to fly home with some pride restored. At the very least they have shown that their pace attack, pilloried during the Tests, is a much more dangerous proposition in the one-day format. The presence of Lasith Malinga helps, of course, but in Brisbane on Friday it was Nuwan Kulasekara, who was here for the Test series, who destroyed Australia with the kind of prodigious swing most bowlers could only achieve with a half-taped tennis ball. It was brilliant stuff, and Australia's batsmen will need to show more of a willingness to fight through such swing if it is again present in Sydney, although the conditions are unlikely to be as helpfully humid as in Brisbane.

For Australia, this match is as much about regaining pride as it is about keeping the series alive. If their 170 in Adelaide looked bad, their 74 all out at the Gabba was as embarrassing as it gets in one-day cricket. Only the final batting pair, Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty, reached double figures. It was only due to their 34-run stand that Australia avoided their all-time lowest ODI total. The match was nearly over by 5pm, the time that should have been the change of innings. Those numbers cannot be avoided. Nor can they be repeated.

Form guide

(Most recent first)
Australia LLWWL
Sri Lanka WWLWW

In the spotlight

For most of Australia's brief innings on Friday, it looked like Michael Clarke was going to be the top scorer with 9. He was one of several men beaten by hooping inswing and as the captain, it is up to him to ensure Australia find a way to combat Sri Lanka's bowlers on Sunday. Such has been his consistency lately that not since the opening two Tests of the 2010-11 Ashes has Clarke made two consecutive single-figure scores for Australia. Now is not the time to change that.

Nuwan Kulasekara's 5 for 22 was the best analysis ever achieved by a Sri Lankan in an ODI in Australia and it was a performance built on controlling and directing his inswing, and in many cases swinging it late. The conditions in Sydney won't be quite as helpful, but after Friday's performance Australia's batsmen will be wary of him all the same.

Team news

Jackson Bird has been added to Australia's squad for this match as cover, just as Ben Cutting was for the Brisbane game. But it's not Australia's bowling that has been the problem, and Bird may find himself running the drinks if all the other fast men are fit. Glenn Maxwell will come into contention again after being left out due to the conditions at the Gabba, and might be jostling with Moises Henriques for the No.7 position.

Australia (possible) 1 Phillip Hughes, 2 David Warner, 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 George Bailey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Matthew Wade (wk), 7 Moises Henriques / Glenn Maxwell, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty.

Ajantha Mendis should be reinstated at the SCG after Sri Lanka's selectors shrewdly judged the Gabba as a venue much friendlier to swing and seam. Shaminda Eranga would be the most likely man to miss out, having replaced Mendis for the Brisbane game. The fitness of Dinesh Chandimal remains a query but with Kushal Perera performing impressively over the past two games, there is no need for Sri Lanka to rush Chandimal back if he is not quite ready.

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

Pitch and conditions

Both teams would be pleased the Sydney match was scheduled for Sunday instead of Friday, because while they were competing in Brisbane, the temperature in Sydney reached an all-time record of 45.8C. The forecast for Sunday is a much more pleasant 25C, with a shower or two possible.

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka have not only won their past two ODIs against Australia at the SCG, they have also won four of the six the teams have played there this century
  • Ajantha Mendis needs two victims to reach 100 ODI wickets and if he reaches the milestone during this series he will be the quickest Sri Lankan to the mark
  • In the four games (Tests and ODIs) Australia have played in 2013, they have used 23 players; Phillip Hughes is the only man to have taken part in all four matches


"Our batting performance was very poor. We have no excuse for that ... If we bat like that in any conditions, we're not going to make many runs."
Michael Clarke after the humiliation at the Gabba

"What happened in the last two games is fantastic but we need to start all over again in Sydney, have that intensity, have that energy."
Mahela Jayawardene

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ubaid on January 20, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    its too sad that CA dropped M.hussey bkz he suddenllly announced his retirement...they are taking revenge from result is in front of every each their batting order collapses.....miss u mr cricket..

  • James on January 20, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    @Mitty2, which parallel universe are you living in? Starc not in our best playing 11 for ODIs? He's the best short format bowler we've got, and he's been sensational for the past season or two!

  • Stephen on January 20, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    Apparantly all you have to do to be selected for the Aussie team is score 4, 3, 2, 32, 18, 7, 12, 0, and 2 and your in. With selection criteria like that I cant see us winning much for a while yet. :-) I must be watching a different game to the selectors.

  • Nimmie on January 20, 2013, 1:53 GMT

    We need selectors the kind they have in England, if we had so we wouldn't have lost this much of matches at home in particular. The Country badly needs young batters of quick reflex and good control over their batting and spinners that can spin & extract bounce off the pitch with some control. The henchmen that have been used by the J&Ps are way below the accepted standards, e.g. Batters are sticky footed, slow in reflex, unable to middle the ball nor stroke the ball along the ground when it is really needed (specially on the leg side); Spin Bowlers can't spin the bowl unless there were pot holes on the pitch. At times they, the J&Ps pick henchmen for no valid reasons that have done nothing at School or at 1st Class levels though there are more than enough quality young players with very consistent performances at domestic levels. The most disheartening factor for ardent SLan Cricket fans is their (J&Ps') ignorance of using reckless hitters as front liners in Test & ODI formats.

  • Shane on January 20, 2013, 1:13 GMT

    i assume the selectors are aware Bird has 8 List A wickets in his entire career. Great first class player and potentially a decent Test player but lets pick good ODD bowlers for our ODI team. Do we have to keep handing out new caps, we have plenty of blokes with some international experience that could come in, Bollinger for one has a great ODI record. Hastings can play etc etc

  • sri on January 19, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    Sri Lanka was doing everything at their disposal to throw away a game handed to them on a platter in Brisbane. I just cant understand the thinking behind the move not to bowl out Malinga when the Aussie last pair was struggling. Jayawardane breathed life into the Aussie last pair to the tune of 34 runs by keeping Malinga's last 3 overs on ice which to me was a grave tactical error which even a run of the mill captain would not have made which in turn makes me reiterate the fact that he can't hold a candle to Arjuna as a skipper. Ford cut a sorry figure as a coach when the cameras zoomed in on him, sitting away from the team and trying hard not to go to to sleep. He should have been in the thick of things advising the batters to come and working out strategy instead. I think Tharanga and Jeevan mendis have reached their use by dates on this tour and should be discarded and other youngsters in the squad given their turn to show what they can do . Kusal is a good case in point.

  • Hamish on January 19, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    Not harbouring too much hope for this game. As this side is no where near as good as our best XI for the test, with only four: Hughes, clarke, Warner and wade (starc and Johnson aren't in the best three pacers imo) in the test side from this current one. And also Sri Lanka priorities limited overs cricket over tests, so their focus and ability in the ODI's is much better. It seems to me that out side is built on a supposed x-factor over reliability. Warner in odi's is incredibly unreliable as he has the wrong mentality, but he has the aura that he can win the game single-handedly. But.. His average and record shows that he is much better in 20/20's and tests. Hughes is not used to the format and kula is the perfect bowler to ball to him so, overall, there is a huge chance that we can be two down very early, and when that happens, unless you have the likes of MICHAEL hussey and khawaja to save and anchor an innings, we won't win many. The onus is on the openers; protect the middle order

  • Dale on January 19, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    3 Things i just don't get about this series. 1. How did Australia go from being so dominant in game one to astonishingly bad in the next two games. 2. Why is the Sri Lanka attach so much better at ODI, i know Maslinga helps but still he's not doing everything. 3. Why are we resting batsmen who are in good form... when all i've ever heard about batsmen is time at the crease is the best thing for them.

  • Dummy4 on January 19, 2013, 20:07 GMT

    Warner make a 50 ball hundred and follow up with Hussey and Micheal Clarke to lead a big score. Srilanka will be choked. Go Australia Go Go Go. From an Indian supporting Austalian Cricket.

  • Shehan on January 19, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    Looking at all the SL comments here is quite amusing. SL fans are dreamers and they will be devastated if SL lose the 4th and 5th ODIs, like they have choked in the recent past. No doubt Kulasekera, Angelo and Malinga bowled well in the 2nd and 3rd ODIs due to luck of the toss and assistance of the wicket, but their batsman are quite ordinary. Australia are not going to take things lying down, and the 2 humilating defeats and the bad press has probably given them a wake up call. I'm sure they will come out all guns blazing tomorrow.

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