Captain David Warner and incoming batsman Usman Khawaja will both be searching for a turnaround in their personal fortunes even as Australia aim to seal the ODI series against Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Wednesday. Australia enter the fourth match of the five-game series with a 2-1 lead and a win, though far from making up for their humiliation in the Test series, would at least allow them to lift some sort of trophy on this trip.
Khawaja will come into the XI for the first time in this series, after Shaun Marsh was ruled out of the remainder of the tour having broken a finger while fielding during Australia's win on Sunday. The recall provides an opportunity for Khawaja to regain some pride after he was axed for the final Test of the Sri Lanka series, following scores of 26, 18, 11 and 0 in the first two Tests.
"It was a difficult time for everyone, not just Usman himself," Warner told reporters in Dambulla on Tuesday. "We all have to have a bit of a reality check sometimes in regards to the way we play our game. It's such a tough environment to be over here. Unfortunately he did get dropped from the Test series. He took that very, very well. He's been training his backside off in the nets.
"He's been doing everything he can to put his hand up for selection. He accepts that he didn't have the runs on the board and he's been doing everything he can to get back in the team. I'm really looking forward to seeing him come out and play the way he does. He scored a lovely 90 in the Caribbean and he played fantastic there, I'm hoping he can come out here and do the same thing tomorrow."
Khawaja is expected to be Australia's third No. 3 this series, after captain Steven Smith filled the role for the first two games but then flew home for a break and was replaced by Marsh. Warner and Aaron Finch have been the opening combination all series but Warner is yet to make a contribution with the bat, with scores of 8, 1 and 10 in the first three games.
"If you can find the answer, I'll take it," Warner said when asked how he could turn his form around. "That's just what happens with cricket. Sometimes you're in form, sometimes you're not. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well. I've had some good dismissals, I've had a couple of poor shots here and there.
"But that's the challenge you face over here in these conditions. You always have to back your game plan and back your skills. Every time I've gone out there, I've done that. Unfortunately I haven't got the runs on the board that are necessary. I'll be aiming to come out here and play my role as I normally do, try and have that intent from ball one."
Despite his own lack of runs, Warner captained Australia effectively on Sunday in his first match in charge, juggling his bowlers well and showing an attacking mindset in the field. He said one of the challenges was to keep on top of the over rate given Australia's reliance on fast bowlers, but that he had loved the experience of leading his country.
"I loved every minute of it," Warner said. "I feel that the guys have taken it on board very, very well. You always have the respect from your peers, which is always fantastic. And I felt that the guys did everything I asked of them in the last game, and everything I've asked of them at training. They've done everything I've asked for, and I couldn't be any more pleased."
The fourth ODI will be played on the same Dambulla surface as Sunday's match, meaning it could be slow and dry right from the outset. Offspinner Nathan Lyon is likely to come under strong consideration after being left out of the previous game.