Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, 12th match, Melbourne February 28, 2008

'Our finals begin now' - Gilchrist


Adam Gilchrist is one of several Australians keen to find form ahead of the CB Series deciders © Getty Images
 

Australia will treat Friday's dead-rubber against Sri Lanka as their first final ahead of the best-of-three CB Series deciders with India starting on Sunday. Sri Lanka have only pride to play for but Australia know they cannot afford to lose momentum after winning their past four games of the tournament.

"We've certainly taken the approach that our finals campaign starts now," Gilchrist said in the lead-up to the Sri Lanka match at the MCG. "You could say it would be better not playing the game and have a clear run into the finals and preparation. But we've got this game to use how we want to use it, and it's not as a practice game. If we get lethargic we lose momentum.

"I'm sure every individual is looking to have their own specific things. I'm sure Ricky [Ponting] will want to back up now, the runs that he's scored, and Symmo. I've had a few teens, twenties scores since my hundred in Perth, so it would be nice to get a bit of momentum back up."

Australia lost last year's tri-series finals to England and Gilchrist said with he and Brad Hogg farewelling international cricket during the deciders - and with the CB Series itself on the way out - it was important the hosts were in form to face India on Sunday. "We don't have that trophy in the cabinet and it's the last tri-series that there will probably ever be," he said.

"It's been an integral part in the success of Australian cricket and the Australian cricket calendar, and indeed the world cricket calendar. Although it's become tired and everyone's ready to move ont o a different format this triangular series, when it used to be called the World Series Cup, countries used to covet this trophy and loved to be here."

Mahela Jayawardene's men cannot make the finals following their disappointing run since their win over India in Canberra more than two weeks ago. They have suffered four defeats from that moment on and Jayawardene said their pride was definitely on the line in Melbourne.

"No team wants to lose four-five games in a tournament and not have a successful run," Jayawardene said. "Every game we play, we play to win and give everything. Things haven't gone our way, we have one more chance to rectify those things."

They are unlikely to risk Farveez Maharoof, who has a side strain, while Australia will regain Mitchell Johnson after he was rested for their match in Sydney earlier this week. It will be the last match Gilchrist plays at the MCG and he said as the CB Series had continued the reality of retirement had really hit home. However, he remains at ease with his call.

"There's not a decision I've made in my life - and this is all due respect to my wife about marriage because I'm pretty certain that was the right decision - but I've never been surer every single day that I wake up, that this is the right thing to do," Gilchrist said. "I'm getting more and more reflective and it's natural to do that. The way people are expressing their emotions and thoughts and opinions of me, and to me, that's making it even more of an emotional time."

Australia (likely) 1 Adam Gilchrist (wk), 2 Matthew Hayden, 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 (likely) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Dilruwan Perera, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Chamara Kapugedera, 8 Chaminda Vaas, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Ishara Amerasinghe.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo