Sydney: Sri Lanka are one win away from wrapping up the series against Australia, but much of the talk in home circles is how an Australian 'B team' is in disarray following two sloppy defeats. Michael Clarke's return for the previous match saw Australia bowled out for 74, with only the last pair Mitchell reaching double figures, and the knives have been drawn by the team's critics.
The significance of a Sri Lankan victory in the fourth ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground cannot be understated; should they beat Australia, they will become just the second team ever to win two bilateral series against Australia in Australia. The advantage lies with Sri Lanka.
The visitors' four-wicket win was set up in the field when, led by five-wicket man Nuwan Kulasekara, they bowled Australia out for an embarrassing total. The batsmen huffed and puffed before victory was achieved, but clearly Sri Lanka are the buoyant side. Their bowling was top class, with Kulasekara moving the ball around superbly and Lasith Malinga keeping a lid on the lower order. Another such showing will boost incredibly Sri Lanka's chances of a rare overseas win, and will leave Australia smarting.
While Sri Lanka will be looking to turn the final game in Hobart into a dead rubber, Clarke and Co. will be desperately seeking an upheaval and to regain pride. Their batting in Brisbane was woeful, but they do not have many options to ponder. David Warner returned to the side and made 4, David Hussey has 29 and 4 in two matches, George Bailey was out first ball in Brisbane and Phillip Hughes’ drastic drop in form has not helped. There are no replacement batsmen in the squad, so the only possible change would be Glenn Maxwell in as the allrounder in place of Moises Henriques.
For Sri Lanka, Ajantha Mendis – two short of the 100-wicket mark in ODIs - could be drafted back in on what is expected to be a harder surface in cooler climates. Shaminda Eranga would thus miss out. Kushal Perera should continue to keep wickets with the management monitoring Dinesh Chandimal's fitness.
Australia: 1 Phillip Hughes, 2 David Warner, 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 George Bailey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Matthew Wade (wk), 7 Moises Henriques/Glenn Maxwell, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty
Sri Lanka: 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Lahiru Thirimanne, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Kushal Perera (wk), 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Ajantha Mendis