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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Conflicted Sri Lanka need top order to fire

Match facts

September 4, 2016
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)

Big Picture

Australia have lost three of the four tosses, lost players to injury, and put their captain on a flight home, and yet have eased to a series win, with their most dominant performance coming in the previous match. Sri Lanka have had the dusty tracks they prefer, had rowdy crowds cheering for them from overflowing stands, and had their first-choice top order available through the series, and yet have consistently failed with the bat.

The hosts arrive in Pallekele with several decisions to make now. Angelo Mathews has been ruled out, throwing out the balance of the whole XI. Dhananjaya de Silva has suggested he is worth sticking with as opener for now, but Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando have failed at the top of the order this series. And with Thisara Perera now omitted, at least one bowling spot becomes available as well. Sri Lanka say they are building a team for 2019, but unlike in Tests, where some future-proof players have been identified, they are still rifling through ODI candidates.

They seem a little conflicted as to what strategy to pursue in the shorter formats as well. Sri Lanka can claim to have revolutionised ODI batting in 1996, but in recent years, they seem to be trying to kill off limited-overs bowling, lately fielding as few as two specialist bowlers in the XI.

David Warner's captaincy, meanwhile, has been in as fine form as his complaining. So good have Aaron Finch, George Bailey and Matthew Wade been, Sri Lanka's spinners have found themselves defused on some very dry tracks.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia WWLWW
Sri Lanka LLWLL

In the spotlight

No one has played Mitchell Starc better on this tour than Dhananjaya de Silva. Owner of an exceedingly simple - and immensely watchable - batting technique, de Silva has the strokes to access virtually any part of the ground, and he has showcased both creativity and grit. Now that he has begun to open the ODI innings, Sri Lanka desperately need him to continue succeeding there.

George Bailey's batting average is a healthy 42.47, but in Asia, this figure rises to 62.14 across 17 innings. Bailey has been Australia's best operator in Sri Lanka, partly because he is the smartest. He puts spinners off the length early in their spell by using his feet, or the sweep. He manipulates the field better than his team-mates. And he is rarely fooled by variations. Each of the Tests he has played in an underwhelming long-format career so far has been in Australia. If Bailey's mastery of Asian conditions continues, though, perhaps the selectors could consider him for the forthcoming Test tour of India.

Teams news

This being a dead rubber, Sri Lanka may take the chance to ratchet up the experimentation even further. Upul Tharanga is likely to enter the XI, as is Dasun Shanaka. Where they will bat is anyone's guess. Suranga Lakmal is due for a match as well.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Dhananjaya de Silva, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 5 Upul Tharanga, 6 Kusal Perera (wk), 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Seekkuge Prasanna, 9 Dilruwan Perera, 10 Amila Aponso, 11 Suranga Lakmal

Australia may keep the same XI, unless it is felt the track demands a second spinner, in which case Nathan Lyon may replace Scott Boland.

Australia(probable): 1 David Warner (capt.), 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 George Bailey, 5 Travis Head, 6 Matthew Wade (wk), 7 James Faulkner, 8 John Hastings, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Scott Boland/ Nathan Lyon

Pitch and conditions

Pallekele has historically been one of the more seam-friendly venues in the country, with the ball tending to nip around under lights especially.

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka have won five of their last six matches in Pallekele, losing only to England in a rain-affected game played over two days.

  • Dinesh Chandimal has previously captained two ODIs, against South Africa at home, both of which Sri Lanka won.

  • The three top wicket-takers in the series are all Australia seamers. James Faulkner and Starc have nine scalps apiece, while John Hastings sits behind them on eight. Adam Zampa has seven, level with the best Sri Lanka bowler, Amila Aponso.

Quotes

"We are playing a few more quicks than what they (Sri Lanka) are, but with variable bounce and reverse swing, we've countered their spinners."
Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade on the success of the visiting quicks

Starc's best

12

No. of wickets for Starc in this series - most by him a bilateral ODI series. He had taken 11 wickets in 3 matches vs West Indies in 2012-13.

Collapsed

122

Runs added by Sri Lanka's last 9 wickets. Their openers had shared partnership of 73 runs.