Hussey braced for spinning surfaces
David Hussey, the Australia batsman, has counselled his team to be prepared for a succession of slow pitches and a spin-laden Sri Lankan bowling attack in the limited overs matches that start with a Twenty20 fixture in Kandy on Saturday.
Australia's cricketers have played plenty of cricket on the subcontinent lately, but their skills will again be tested by the variety of slow bowling offered up by the home side, which must cope without the speed of Lasith Malinga. He has been ruled out of the T20 matches and may yet miss the ODI series also, having retired from Test cricket.
"They're definitely home-favoured wickets," Hussey told AAP in Colombo. "A lot of spin involved, I guess the players just have to get their heads around playing in the different conditions. Facing many overs of spin and working out the zones to either clear the pickets or to run hard and get twos and threes. I think that's the key in the limited overs form.
"(Also) being as fit as you possibly can. Charging for maybe four twos in the over to get the eight runs there and maybe a boundary to finish off the over is a pretty good effort. I think you'll see the T20s par will be the 145-150 range rather than a 190 which you might see in Australia."
Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, was adamant that his team could cover for the loss of Malinga, through a combination of youth and the shrewd use of spin bowlers.
"This happens to any cricketer but it is a good opportunity for a youngster who is selected to showcase his talent," Dilshan said of Malinga. "We will leave no stone unturned and have included four spinners in the team. We don't know anything about the wicket yet and the final side will only be selected after inspecting the pitch. Australia usually play very hard. They may be a bit inexperienced. But they are tough opponents."
Sri Lanka have a new, home-grown coach in the shape of Rumesh Ratnayake after the departure of Trevor Bayliss. Stuart Law was Bayliss' assistant and played the role of caretaker on the recent tour of England before Ratnayake's appointment. Dilshan praised the new man's ability to make the players feel comfortable.
"Rumesh's influence, although for a short time, has been very good. The younger players feel comfortable to walk up and talk to the head coach, and discuss their shortcomings. I hope we do well," Dilshan said.