Australia Vs. Sri Lanka: Winners And Losers From Cricket World Cup Match

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Posted July 25, 2016 09:49:30

Steve Smith waits to bat in the nets>> Photo: Australia's batsmen say they'll have to be more circumspect on Sri Lanka's pitches. (AFP: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

>Related Story: O'Keefe takes 10, scores 78 as Aussies win Colombo tour match

>Map: Sri Lanka

Australia is favourite to hold on to its number one ranking as it begins the first Test in Sri Lanka as its hosts still reel from a disastrous tour of England.

It has been five years since Australia last toured Sri Lanka, a series it won 1-0. Back in those days, Mike Hussey was player of the series and India was the number one Test side in the world.

Now the Aussies hold the Test number one ranking themselves and their trip to Sri Lanka could not come at a better time. Their batting lineup is more or less stable, Mitchell Starc is back from ankle surgery and coach Darren Lehmann is travelling with the team again.

Most significantly, Sri Lanka is out of form and struggling with five injuries after a winless tour of England earlier this month.

If ever Australia was going to win in style on a tour of the subcontinent, it should be now.

Still, posting totals on Sri Lanka's turning, slower pitches will be tough. Ahead of the series, David Warner, Joe Burns and Mitchell Marsh have all been talking up the importance of staying patient at the batting crease.

"You are going to have to be prepared for some boring fields, both teams are going to use that," Warner told reporters in Kandy.

"You have to get your runs in ones and twos."

Warner now seems likely to start in the first Test, despite nursing a finger injury from the recent tri-nation series in the Caribbean.

Twin spin options

O'Keefe celebrates with team-mates>> Photo: Stephen O'Keefe (C) could team up with Nathan Lyon in a twin-spin attack for Australia. (Getty Images: Warren Little)

The Australians will otherwise take the field with a similar team to the one that played against New Zealand back in February.

Steve O'Keefe could team up with Nathan Lyon to form a dual spinning option for the guests, especially after the 31-year-old took 10 wickets and batted strongly in the tour match in Colombo.

The perennial joker, O'Keefe will be playing only his third Test in the Baggy Green.

Mathews bats on day three>> Photo: Angelo Mathews has been ear-marked by Australia as Sri Lanka's biggest threat with the bat. (Getty Images: Robert Cianflone)

Sri Lanka, in contrast, has three uncapped bowlers in its first Test squad, including pacemen Asitha Fernando and Roshane Silva and spinner Lakshan Sandakan. Experienced spinner Rangana Herath and captain Angelo Matthews will have to lead from the front and Mitchell Starc wants his team to target them.

"No doubt we'll put a lot of pressure on Angelo to perform, and he's got to lead as a captain," Starc said ahead of the game.

"He's going to be a big wicket for us, along with probably [Dinesh] Chandimal."

"For their bowlers, [Rangana] Herath is the most experienced, and one that we'll try and counter."

Australia has a strong record in Sri Lanka, having won just under half of the Tests it has played there since 1983.

If it can win again this time, it will surely add credibility to its top ranking. More importantly, it will give the team a sense of belief that it can beat its other, tougher subcontinent opponents in the future too.

Topics: cricket, sport, sri-lanka, australia

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