Sri Lanka will target Ponting
Sri Lanka's captain Mahela Jayawardene has laid down a marker for Friday's match in Perth after vowing to target Australian frailties - and Ricky Ponting in particular - as they bid to top the table. A win for Sri Lanka would see them top of the standings, relegating the world champions Australia to bottom.
Ponting has not yet reached double figures in the tournament and was targeted by Harbhajan Singh in the India Test series in January. "He's had a quiet time and hopefully we can keep him under the same pressure he has been under for the last two months," Jayawardene told AFP on the eve of the game. "It is in our interest to keep him like that."
His own side's confidence boosted by a much-needed win over India in Canberra on Tuesday, Jayawardene said the Australians were not as daunting as they had been over the past 10 years. "It is a good opportunity for us to go top of the table," he said. "We've got back into the tournament and the guys can really build up on that confidence.
"They are a bit under pressure. The batting, there are two or three guys who have been consistently performing, but the rest haven't been. In the past the Aussies have found ways to get back into games, but the last six months I don't think they've got that belief in themselves."
Sri Lanka hope Ishara Amerasinghe will be fit to return from a hamstring strain, with a final decision to be made on the morning of the match.
Australia, who will start favourites, have made two changes: James Hopes and Brad Hogg will return, replacing Stuart Clark and Brad Haddin. Ponting explained Australia were looking for extra variety following their loss to India on Sunday.
Hopes, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, offers allround options, while Australia have opted for the spin of Hogg on a benign track over Clark's seam. Ponting recognised Clark was unlucky to miss out, having returned 1 for 26 last match.
"The wicket is very hard and very flat," Ponting told AAP, "so I think some change of pace with those two guys coming into the side will help us out. I think we will use the other part timers as well, because the quicks out there might just be the easiest bowlers to face."
The match will be Adam Gilchrist's last on his home ground, the WACA, and a big send-off is planned, with two huge murals for fans to sign. Australia will hope to use this as a spur.
"It's a big motivation for us as the series goes on," Ponting said. "We were disappointed by the way we played in Melbourne the other night so we want to make sure we do the right thing by GIlly as a team and hopefully we can win enough games to make it through to the finals and send him off appropriately."
Australia, whose only win so far came against Sri Lanka recently, will try to get themselves back into the winning groove following the India loss. After the first two games were doused by unusual rain, the series is gradually catching fire.
Australia (probable) 1 Matthew Hayden, 2 Adam Gilchrist (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Andrew Symonds, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 James Hopes, 8 Brett Lee, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Mitchell Johnson, 11 Nathan Bracken.
Sri Lanka (probable) 1Tillekaratne Dilshan, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 Chamara Silva, 7 Farveez Maharoof, 8 Chaminda Vaas, 9 Lasith Malinga 10 Ishara Amerasinghe 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.