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January 22, 2013
Sri Lanka might have been upset at the way the fourth ODI in Sydney was called off as a result of light rain, but the decision has had one benefit for the visitors: Australia can no longer win the series. Otherwise, little has changed as the teams prepare for the final match in Hobart. Australia's batsmen are still under pressure to perform, although David Warner at least showed some positive signs during his innings of 60 at the SCG. Sri Lanka's bowlers are still proving dangerous and should be again at Bellerive Oval, although their batsmen have had little to do in the past few games. And again, Sri Lanka enter a match knowing that victory will secure them a series win. They have history on their side, albeit from a small sample size: Sri Lanka have won the only two ODIs they have ever played against Australia at Bellerive Oval.
The major question in the lead-up to the match surrounds the fitness of Australia's captain Michael Clarke, who rolled his ankle at training on the day before the game. George Bailey stood in at the pre-match captain's press conference and is likely to find himself filling in again at the toss. The probable loss of Clarke will weaken Australia's batting even further, and again the pressure will be heavily on Warner to set the innings up. For Sri Lanka, more of the same from their bowlers, led by Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga, will go a long way to making them the first team ever to beat Australia in two bilateral one-day series in Australia.
Form guide(Most recent first)
In the spotlight
David Hussey started the series well, with a quick unbeaten 60 at the MCG and then 29 at Adelaide Oval in an innings that ended only due to a run-out. But he was a victim of Sri Lanka's outstanding swing bowling in the next two games with single-figure scores and as the senior man in the middle order, the Australians will look to Hussey to provide a stabilising presence in Hobart, especially if Clarke does not play. Given that he was left out of the Twenty20 squad announced on Monday, Hussey would be keen to avoid a hat-trick of low scores as the selectors begin to think about the ODI squad that will take on West Indies next month.
In Sydney, Rangana Herath was preferred to Ajantha Mendis and bowled well in his first match of the series. Sri Lanka's swing bowlers have been their key weapons in the past three games but the Hobart surface has tended to be on the slow side this summer, which might bring Herath's spin into the contest even more.
Clarke's ankle injury could force a change to the batting line-up. If Clarke is ruled out it will likely mean Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques will both play as allrounders at Nos.6 and 7, unless the selectors call up another batsman as cover.
Australia (possible) 1 Phillip Hughes, 2 David Warner, 3 George Bailey (capt), 4 David Hussey, 5 Matthew Wade (wk), 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Moises Henriques, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty.
Sri Lanka dropped the out-of-form Upul Tharanga for the fourth match and included Dinesh Chandimal as wicketkeeper, leaving Kushal Perera in the side as a specialist batsman. They also preferred Rangana Herath's spin to that of Ajantha Mendis, and there appears no reason to change the side for the fifth game.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 3 Lahiru Thirimanne, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Kushal Perera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Rangana Herath.
Pitch and conditions
The two ODIs at Bellerive Oval last summer provided totals of 280-plus in all four innings and despite the pitch square being relaid during the off season, the two Ryobi Cup matches there in October and November also allowed reasonable first-innings scores of 248 and 275. The forecast for Wednesday is mostly sunny and a top of 21C.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"It would be nice to salvage this series and escape with 2-2, get it back to level pegging. There's a lot on the line."
"We have controlled all three games the way we wanted to so I'm pretty confident coming to Hobart."
Mahela Jayawardene on Sri Lanka's past three performances
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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