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27 February 2024

Sri Lanka eye rare ODI double in Australia

By Staff


Sri Lanka are confident of sealing a rare ODI series triumph against Australia and give outgoing captain Mahela Jayawardene a fitting farewell when they clash in the final match of the series at Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Wednesday.

The tourists have bounced back after being drubbed in the opening match at Melbourne literally swinging the tide with a wonderful exhibition of seam bowling to put Australia on the back foot.

Sri Lanka have taken an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series after the controversial abandonment of the Sydney match because of a wet outfield, which means Australia can only tie the series not win it.

Sri Lanka are poised to become the first team ever to beat Australia in two bilateral one-day series in Australia, having also won their in 2010.

It would be a perfect farewell gift for Sri Lanka's elder statesman Jayawardene who is stepping down after a second stint as captain.

"Given the way we have played and how we've controlled things, the boys will be pretty happy and I'm pretty confident that we'll be able to close this series in Hobart," Jayawardene, a veteran of 390 ODIs said.

Sri Lanka also have history on their side having won the only two ODIs they have ever played against Australia at Bellerive Oval.

Jayawardene praised his quick bowlers for exploiting the two new balls in ODIs in the last three matches in particular to restrict Australia to 170, 74 and 222 for 9 with Nuwan Kualasekera being a revelation.

"The quality of the bowling has been pretty good. A lot of the batsmen in world cricket will struggle with the way our guys have delivered. With the two new balls, that's always going to happen going forward. That's something we've spoken about as well - how we're going to navigate the new rules. All over the world, you're trying to get wickets up front and it's vital that you bat well in the top four," said the 35-year old who has scored over 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs.

Kulasekara has been the best of Sri Lanka's bowlers, having reaped 10 wickets at an average of 12.90 and an economy-rate of 3.30 including a career-best 5 for 22 at the Gabba.

His remarkable spell of inswing bowling consigned Australia to their third-worst ODI total ever in Brisbane, and he was again the best of Sri Lanka's bowlers in Sydney, taking 3 for 30 from his 10 overs.

"He's come back into the one-dayers very strongly with the white ball. He's got a lot of confidence with what he's doing with it. Both he and Lasith (Malinga) have a very good partnership for us, and I'm looking forward to how he's going to go about it in Hobart as well," said Jayawardene who aims to go for the jugular in Hobart.

Australia are sweating on the fitness of skipper Michael Clarke who twisted his ankle in training.

George Bailey stood in at the pre-match captain's press conference and is likely to find himself filling in again at the toss.

The probable loss of Clarke will weaken Australia's batting even further putting the pressure David Warner to set the innings up.