Sri Lanka looking at clean sweep

Published: Saturday, November 6, 2010, 12:25 [IST]
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Sri Lanka looking at clean sweep

Sri Lanka is most likely on top of the world after beating the world champions Australia, for the first time in a series Down Under. They pulled off a narrow escape at Melbourne to win the first one-dayer by just one wicket and it seemed that was all their morale needed to wrap up the second match at Sydney and run home with the series.

The Australians on the other hand, have one shot at salvaging pride, but it's more than just that. They will have to try and prevent the Lankans from subjecting them to a whitewash in their own back yard. So, even if Sunday's match at the Gabba is a dead rubber, Australia have something to play for. If nothing else, they will want a little momentum before they go into the Ashes which begins in just under three weeks.

The world champs are now on a seven-match losing streak in all formats of the game. Their last victory came in July at Lords against Pakistan. It hasn't been since 1996 that that they have lost so many matches in a row and they have never been beaten in eight straight games. Michael Clarke will take on the task of ensuring that doesn't happen after Ricky Ponting has decided to miss the the match in preparation for Tasmania's Sheffield Shield game on Wednesday.

Shane Watson stands as one of the key men for Australia. He looked set to make a decent score against Sri Lanka in the last game until Muralitharan ruined his plans. He will have to perform well at the top of the order and regularly, if Australia is to pull off a few wins. He contributed two wickets at the SCG which means he should be looking at repeating that show in Brisbane.

The Sri Lankan to watch out for is Mahela Jayawardene. The middle-order batsman hasn't yet impressed in the ODI series, making 19 and 5, so he is due for some runs. Considering the Lankans have done well without big contributions from him means that a stepping up from him would definitely make the side sparkle. He's done well at the Gabba too, notching up three half-centuries in four innings there.

There is some good news of Australia - they have never lost a match to Sri Lanka at the Gabba and that includes two tests and ODIs in 2003 and 2006. There might be some pace and bounce on offer from the pitch which should suit the Lankan speedsters Thisara Perera and Kulasekara. So it remains to be seen if Australia can smother the threat of a clean sweep from the tourists and pull off their first win in the series on Sunday.


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