Revitalised Sri Lanka look to even series
August 20, Colombo
Start time 1430 (900 GMT)
A lot has changed in Australian cricket over the past 24 hours but one thing remains the same: the team is in Sri Lanka trying to win a one-day series. The players have been briefed on the Argus report, which has resulted in Andrew Hilditch and Greg Chappell being removed from the selection panel, and the captain and coach being made selectors. Chappell remains in Sri Lanka with the side, and will pick the team for Saturday's match. It might be difficult for the players to retain their focus amid such turmoil, but given how impressive Sri Lanka were in the third match, they will need to shut out all distractions.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and his men found a spark to keep the series alive in Hambantota, and victory in Saturday's game in Colombo will level the series. The teams met at this venue during the World Cup but the match was washed out. The pitch had offered plenty of spin on that occasion, which should give the hosts some confidence.
Form guide(Most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLLWL
In the spotlight
Lasith Malinga's five-wicket haul in Tuesday's victory was overshadowed by Upul Tharanga's century, but it was just as impressive. At his best, Malinga is fast, accurate, and gets late swing that means a batsman cannot afford to play the wrong line. He will be a key weapon throughout the rest of the series.
Doug Bollinger has been in excellent form for Australia so far in this series, having taken taking eight wickets at 13.87, yet he's not part of the squad for the Test matches coming up after the one-dayers. He has used his pace, bounce and angle to great effect in the first three games, and was easily Australia's best bowler in the loss in the third match. Bollinger might not exactly be able to bowl himself into the Test squad, but if he keeps his form up, he'll have every chance of being the first backup if any of the bowlers break down in the longer format.
Sri Lanka might have won the third ODI, but not all members of their team have pulled their weight, and three men have been dropped from the squad. Of those, Dinesh Chandimal was the only one who played in the victory, and his axing should mean Chamara Silva retains his spot. The uncapped legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna has been rushed home from England, where he was playing for Sri Lanka A.
In Hambantota, Sri Lanka played just the one specialist spinner, Ajantha Mendis, with Jeevan Mendis playing a supporting role. But with the action shifting to Colombo Dilshan said in the pre-match press conference they would play two spinners. He also said Prasanna could be handed a debut though he will be competing for a spot with Suraj Randiv. Dilshan admitted Sri Lanka may consider dropping Jeevan Mendis since they had given him plenty of opportunities, and he has not produced with either bat or ball in the series.
Angelo Mathews has been ruled fit after missing the third game.
Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Suraj Randiv / Seekkuge Prasanna, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Lasith Malinga.
Australia's main concern surrounds the out-of-form Brad Haddin, but with no other gloveman in the squad, they have no option but to retain him. One possibility would be to bring Shaun Marsh in to open and push Haddin down the order, perhaps squeezing out Steven Smith, who has delivered little with bat or ball so far in the series. But Australia are loath to tinker, and a more likely scenario if the conditions are suitable would be a straight swap of the allrounder John Hastings for Smith, with Haddin to stay at the top.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Michael Hussey, 6 David Hussey, 7 Steven Smith / John Hastings, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Xavier Doherty, 11 Doug Bollinger.
Pitch and conditions
The Hambantota pitch didn't offer as much assistance to the spinners as might have been expected, but expect the ball to turn in Colombo. Dilshan said the track looked slow.
Stats and trivia
- Kumar Sangakkara will play his 300th ODI, the sixth Sri Lankan to reach the milestone.
- Upul Tharanga needs one more century in 2011 to equal the Sri Lankan record for most ODI hundreds in a calendar year for the second time. The record is jointly held by Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya, who made five each in 2006.
- Australia fare better under Michael Clarke when he loses the toss. They've lost four of nine ODIs when he's won the toss, and only three of 21 games when he's lost the toss.
"The difference between the other teams and the Australians is if you take their fast bowlers, they have speed and ability to swing the ball and, more than other teams, they pose a massive challenge."
"We know that if we can make inroads in their top order, we've got a good chance."
Australia coach, Tim Nielsen doesn't think Sri Lanka bat deep
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.