Sri Lanka is back into the action with a test series against the mighty Australians and one thinks it is probably Sri Lanka’s last chance to play their ‘’transitional phase’ card before cricket fans not just in Sri Lanka but all over the world get fed up with that phrase and start questioning the way cricket is being approached in the island country. Sri Lanka vs Australia 1st Test gives this island nation a chance to put itself on the cricketing map once again, a chance to find new heroes, a chance to rekindle some of that old joy that cricket used to provide in this country
Since the departure of Sangakkara and Jayawardene, Sri Lanka have been unable to find that zest in their batting lineup, something that has led to their downfall time and again. Mathews and co. were supposed to be the torchbearers of this new crop of Sri Lankan players but either they have failed miserably or they have run into teams that have improved plenty fold in the last couple of years.
The English tour proved to be a huge learning curve for this young side, especially during the shorter version of the game, as Chandimal and Mathews stepped up in almost every game to lay a solid platform for their bowlers. Mendis and Perera too were brilliant at the top of the order and Lakmal led the bowling line up with some authority.
But it is Herath who will be hogging all the limelight before the first test match(for Sri Lanka at least) as he is undountedly the biggest threat in the sluggish and turning sub continental conditions. Ever since Muralidharan retired, this left arm spin wizard has been single handedly attempting to help Sri Lanka compete in the game as a bowling unit. If he could spin his web around the Australian batsmen, we could be in for a an intriguing contest.
Also Read: The first Test Match at Lord’s
Australia on the other hand come into this test having a perfect record under their captain, Steve Smith, and would love to build on that by completely dismantling this bruised and unsure Sri Lankan unit.
Steve Smith has been leading from the front and is currently the number 1 test batsman in the world. For you to transform from a leg spin all rounder to the best batsmen on the planet, you need to be more than just talented and Smith has shown the world that work ethic and determination go a long way in achieving your dream.
He’ll be boosted by the return of Mitchell Starc who could very well heaten the already hot atmosphere with his pace and directness. If Starc find his rhythm upfront, we could be in for a very short game.
Nicolas O’ Keefe, who was named into the starting XI of the Australian side tonight fter having picked 10 wickets in the warm up game and scoring well crafted 78 will be Australia’s trump card. Spin as always will be a huge, huge role in Sri Lanka and thus Lyon and Keefe will have to toil hard for overs together to get through the defences of the traditionally brilliant players of spin in the Sri Lankan outfit.
With Warner enjoying the form of his life and getting some much needed sub continent experience during the IPL, Steve Smith being a brilliant player of spin, and Adam Voges averaging 95 odd; the Australians would be pretty content with the way their batsmen have fared in general and in sub continental conditions.
Nathan Lyon has grown into a world class spin bowler who does not have the doosra or teesra up his sleeve, but varies his length and pace to perfection to put the batsmen out of his comfort zone. His traditional off spinners should prove to be tantalizing for the Sri Lankan batsmen and only someone who is focused enough to judge the length and flight of the ball will survive and thrive against Lyon’s constant off spinners.
Sri Lanka would be heavily dependent on Chandimal and Mathews, their two most experienced and probably most technically sound batsmen to deal with the Lyon and Starc threat.If these two can string a partnership together, Sri Lanka could have a could chance of getting something out of this game, especially with the trickery of Rangana Herath at their disposal.
It promises to be a very intriguing encounter as Australia would be looking to adjust quickly to the slow, low and turning conditions and Sri Lanka would be hoping that a return to their homeland could re kindle some of that old zest that they used to bring to the table in home series’.
Australia XI- David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevil, Nathan Lyon, Nicolas o’ Keefe, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc
Sri Lankan XI– Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews , Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Vishwa Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep.