Sri Lanka's emphatic win in the lone Twenty20 at the Waca in Perth will be rankling on the minds of the Australians. Having not won a single international match since Lords in July makes it more imperitive than ever, that they focus on the current series to carry some impetus forward to the Ashes later this month. Though Ponting and Hauritz won't play the opening one-dayer against the tourists, they are back in the squad along with Mitchell Johnson and an out-of-form Michael Hussey.
"If you look at it that way, since July, it looks like a long time," Ponting said of the losing streak. "It's only a few games, really. There's no sugar-coating anything, we know we've got some work to do. It's really important that we do start getting that winning feeling back around the group again."
Sri Lanka are yet to win a series in Australia and if they can carry the momentum of their Twenty20 match through to the ODIs, they stand the best chance of creating a record. Sri Lanka is obviously playing with a strategy to home in on their best players for the World Cup next year, which will partly be played on the island. They came out as champions the last time the World Cup was played in their country and so naturally, they will start the tournament as favourites.
One of the key players for the Australians will be Peter Siddle who played his first international match on Sunday in nine months as he was recovering from a stress fracture in his back. To cement his place in the side ahead of the Ashes, he will have to perform at every chance. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera has shown that he is capable of raising eye-brows. In the Twenty20 against Australia on Sunday, he bowled well getting 2 wickets for 22 runs, but his batting was even more ominous as he scored 17 runs of just 4 balls.
Though Ponting is out of the first one-dayer, the hosts have plenty of bowling options with Johnson, Clint McKay, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc and John Hastings all in the fray, while Brad Haddin is all set to make a comeback at the top of the order. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan captain Kumara Sangakarra has confirmed that his side will open with Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan, and that Muttiah Muralitharan will return as well. Suraj Randiv may be overlooked for th match at Melbourne since it is more attuned to fast bowling.