Colombo: Australia all-rounder Steve Smith predicts Saturday's game against Sri Lanka will be a "good challenge" after the co-host's strike bowler Lasith Malinga collected his second hat-trick at a World Cup.
Malinga helped skittle Kenya out on his 2011 World Cup debut on Tuesday with six wickets and a hat-trick after missing his team's first two World Cup matches due to a back strain.
His first World Cup hat-trick came against South Africa in 2007 in the West Indies.
"He's bowling pretty well, Malinga, it was his first game back and took a hat-trick and six wickets," Smith told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the Group A clash. "It's going to be a good challenge here on Saturday."
Smith, a leg spinning all-rounder, said that besides Malinga's return, Sri Lanka will also be buoyed by its first series victory in Australia — having triumphed 2-1 in a one-day contest last November — and the fact that is playing at home in familiar conditions.
Smith, seen as the new prospect to carry forward Australia's leg spinning legacy, says he tries his best to fill the shoes of retired great Shane Warne.
"After Warnie there hasn't been much leg spin around. It's a big challenge for me," Smith said.
"I like to think I am an allrounder, but I love to work on my spin a lot I have been bowling quite a lot in the nets."
Smith is only too well aware that his lower-order batting position won't help to record a good average, but is relishing the chance to put in a high-scoring innings.
"Batting down at No. 7 is quite tough," he acknowledged. "A lot of the time I come in having to score boundaries in the end. It's quite tough to look at your average from there."
But he added: "I reckon at some point in this tournament I'll have to grind some runs out and get a big score. That's a chance I am really looking forward to and, yes, I can't wait for that to come up."