Saturday, August 27, 2011

Preview:Sri Lanka vs Australia,1st Test,Galle

This is the first time we get to see the Australian side in the Test arena. Since the Ashes humiliation, and subsequent Argus Review. That put a broom through everything in Australian Cricket. Their pedigree will be severely tested against a very accomplished Sri Lankan side, that is very difficult to rule in their home confines

Likely Teams:

Sri Lanka:

The respective Team will be one of the most intriguing parts of the build up to this Test. The Sri Lankans have a few queries in the make up of their batting line up. A minor query would be Thilan Samaraweera's place in the line up with the form of Lahiru Thirimanne.

It would be a good move with the future in mind to include Thirimanne at 5.  Though this move is unlikely with the selectors viewing Samaraweera's dominance in home conditions as a key in the Teams chances of winning. Thus his home average of 63.71 will ensure his place. 

A more intriguing selection poser revolves around how they will use their very accomplished keeper/batsman Prasana Jayawardene. 

Then how that decision impacts on the line up.

The choices are between batting him at 6, like in England, so as to allow 5 specialist bowlers to play in the side. In the knowledge, that the sides greatest weakness is in the bowling side of things. Or conversely to revert him back to 7 in the line up, and insert one of Sri Lanka's brightest young talents in Angelo Mathews at 6. A precociously talented all rounder, but one who hasn't as yet left a mark on the Test arena. Either with the bat or ball as the figures below show. 

(13 Tests, batting average 35.13 with only two scores over 50, bowling average 70.16 with 6 wickets)

The likelihood is that Mathews will play. Thus leaving the main question in the bowling line up being whether Sri Lanka will play 1 paceman and three spinners with support from Mathews. Or  play two pacemen and two spinners and view part time spinners like Tillerkeratne Dilshan and Tharanga Paranavitana being effective.

In view of the Australian batsmens weakness against spin, the expectation is a very spin favourable pitch, and three spinners picked to excel on it.

This leaves the biggest query over which bowlers will be part of the 4 man attack

Off spinner Suraj Randiv and most likely Rangana Herath will commander the spin attack. Leaving the third spot to be a choice between mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis and leg spinner Seekkuge Prasanna. 

Both would have the advantage of the Australian's having seen very little of them. Keeping this in mind, Prasanna is likely to be given a debut because of the belief that Mendis's mystery has been solved in the International arena. Rendering him impotent

The pacemen all lack any pedigree. Though a choice for the future would be including young Shaminda Eranga in the line up.

Leaving the Team as follows:

Dilshan, Paranavitana, Sangakkara, Mahela, Samaraweera, Mathews, Prasana, Eranga, Herath, Randiv, Seekkuge


The lead up game has presented Australia with a few happy selection headaches to ponder. The first was the success of the opening pair of Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja. Presenting an opportunity to keep them as the opening partnership in the Tests, and with it freeing up Shane Watson to slip down the order. So as to facilitate him in a more all round capacity.

This move would have great merit, supported by an eye on the future with trying to cement places in the line up for two players who have struggled in the Test arena. Both who have struggled against the moving ball from the pacemen, but are very adept against spin. So could bed themselves in against the rather tame Sri Lankan pace attack, and then feel confident against the more challenging Sri Lankan spinners

The reverting of Shane Watson back to 4 in the line up would also give him a certainty in the line up. In regards to he has been admirable in his stop gap role as opener, but he is more suited to a free flowing role in the middle order. Away from the new ball, where his shot making ability can thrive, and his ability against spin can be utilised. Particularly in this series.

Also his much improved bowling can be fully exploited, so as to benefit the Team. As seen by his improving figures

2009: average 32.22

2010: average 27.05

The bowling line up will be highlighted by Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris. Then it was expected Peter Siddle would be the third seamer, but the impressive performance of Trent Copeland in the warm up might mean he gets a debut at Galle. The choice of spinners is between Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer, both who are severely lacking in Test class. So are likely to be treated with disdain by the Sri Lankan batsmen.

I personally would play 4 pacemen, and get Clarke to bowl the spin, but a specialist spinner will be chosen. So this will be the Team

Khawaja, Hughes, Ponting, Watson, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin, Johnson, Beer, Harris, Copeland

The Keys For The Match

The Galle Stadium has traditionally been a venue tailor made for the make up of the Sri Lankan Team. In regards to being supportive of batsmen in the early days, and the spinners being a factor throughout the Test, but in particular in the 4th and 5th days. The results show the Sri Lankan dominance:

17 Tests, 9 Sri Lankan wins, 5 Draws, 3 Sri Lankan loses

Keeping this in mind, the toss is crucial in this match. Especially with the question marks over the Aussie line up in both sides of the game, and then the biggest doubt over Sri Lanka being its bowling. So for them to be confident of being able to take 20 wickets and duly win the match. 

The best chance for Sri Lanka is to bat first, and score big, then let their spinners become a huge factor. Supported by the wear of the pitch and the support of attacking fields, that a huge total allows.

Australia won't be as dependent on the conditions from a bowling point of view because of their absence of a quality spinner. Their key will be their batting line up being able to stand up against the expected spin onslaught. Which will be hugely dependant on the veterans such as Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting being factors in the series. There is a huge query against this going on the downward trends in their 2 careers

Michael Clarke: career average- 46.49, 2010 average, 36.71 from 12 Tests

Ricky Ponting: career average- 53.51, 2010 average 36.95 from 12 Tests

The bowling line up, also has question marks of being effective on pitches that don't favour bowlers. The key to this is the lack of a quality or even adequate spinner. Then accentuated with the inability of the Australia pace bowlers to bowl any type of swing. Outside of Shane Watson. So in Asian conditions, that are so dependant on the skill of the bowlers for success. The Aussie bowlers struggle. Highlighted by its spearhead Mitchell Johnson

Career average 29.71, average in Asia 37.23

A huge lift from Johnson, supported by the other pace men being factors is Australia best chance of an upset. Then Shane Watson being a factor with the ball will be a key in the Aussies being competitive


My prediction is based on two scenarios revolving around the toss.

If Sri Lanka wins the toss:

Sri Lanka win 60%

Australia win 5%

Draw 35 %

If Australia wins the toss

Sri Lanka win 50%

Australia win 10%

Draw 40%


  1. Galle stadium. 9 wins 3 loses. Now i understand why SLC chooses Galle for the 1st match of any test series.but that time murali was in the team.Murali's best performances were shown in no Murali will be a huge advantage for Aussies.Herath will have a chance the way rain will play a vital role.bcoz Galle is in the wet zone where rain is fell without any prediction in any its 7.45am in is drizzling since last night.