Struggling Aussies look for ODI redemption
Colombo (AFP): Australia will look to restore some battered pride when they begin their one-day series against Sri Lanka Sunday, hoping that some fresh blood can help reverse a string of defeats on a miserable tour.
Days after losing their title as the world’s top Test team, the reigning champions in 50-over cricket will be determined to stop the rot when they take to the field in the first of five ODIs against an upbeat Sri Lanka.
Angelo Mathews’ side completed a 3-0 series whitewash over the tourists on Wednesday when they won the final Test in Colombo by 163 runs, a result which led to Australia being toppled by India at the top of the rankings.
Australian captain Steve Smith admitted they had been totally outclassed after failing to come to terms with the turning Sri Lankan wickets, both with bat and ball.
While Smith remains at the helm of the ODI side, the squad will be bolstered by one-day specialists such as allrounders Aaron Finch and James Faulkner, along with young spinner Adam Zampa.
Mitchell Marsh, who was earlier named in the ODI squad, was released after the Test series and his place in the starting line-up is expected to be taken by another allrounder Moises Henriques.
Coach Darren Lehmann said Australia had “obviously got some quality allrounders in our one-day squad” and the decision to release Marsh meant he could recharge his batteries before next month’s tour to South Africa.
– Solid unit -While Lehmann said his side were building towards next year’s Champions Trophy in England, he acknowledged the need to produce some immediate results to lift morale.
“You’re always looking ahead. We have got a pretty solid one-day side who have performed well over a long period of time. The Champions Trophy is the carrot,” he said ahead of the opener at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium.
“But at the end of the day we want to win a game in Sri Lanka for a start, so that’s probably prime importance for us, and to play well.”
Faulkner is expected to bolster the batting line-up which struggled in the Test series, particularly against veteran spinner Rangana Herath who has retired from ODIs.
Australia’s spinners failed to carry the same threat in the Test series, with pace bowler Mitchell Starc taking the lion’s share of the wickets.
Left-arm spinner Jon Holland has now returned home but his partner Nathan Lyon is staying on and could well be joined in the starting XI on Sunday by the young leg-spinner Zampa.
Sri Lanka will meanwhile be looking to take their new-found confidence into the limited-overs series, with Mathews insisting that there would be no room for complacency after the Test triumph.
“We have the ODI series left and we will try and concentrate on that,” said Mathews.
Sri Lanka, who saw four of their top fast bowlers suffer injuries on a recent tour of England, now have Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal, who played the final Test in Colombo, back in contention.
“When you play ODIs you need to have at least two fast bowlers,” said Mathews, who played a single fast bowler in the three Tests.
Sunday’s match is the first of two games in Colombo before the contest continues with two matches in Dambulla and wraps up in Pallekele on September 4.
Sri Lanka – Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal (vice-capt), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dhananjaya de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana, Avishka Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Lakshan Sandakan and Amila Aponso.
Australia – Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.