History in the making in Adelaide


The country will come to a standstill today as the national cricket team is searching for a rare honour in Australia in the grand finale of the tri-nation Commonwealth Bank Series at City of Churches with the Adelaide Oval hosting the third and last final between Sri Lanka and Australia.

Sri Lankans from all over Australia were attempting to reach Adelaide from various parts of the country including a group of 50 Sri Lankan supporters from Melbourne who were leaving Springvale South Cricket Club last night.

If Sri Lanka win today, it will be their best performance in Australia ahead of their series win in 2009 when they beat Ricky Ponting’s side 2-1 in a three match series. That remains Sri Lanka’s only series win down under. On this occasion under a new captain and coach, Sri Lanka have played exceptionally well after a slow start and have beaten Australia on four occasions in six outings.

The conditions in Adelaide are ideally suited for Sri Lankan style of play with the wicket being a touch slower than what you usually encounter down under. The short square boundaries help Sri Lankan batsmen, who are exceptionally good at cutting and pulling.

Sri Lanka’s top three batsmen; Mahela Jayawardene, Tillekeratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara have all scored hundred at the South Australian ground on previous occasions. While Dilshan did it a couple of days ago, Sangakkara made a hundred in 2008 with Jayawardene’s one coming in 1999. Dilshan is the highest run getter in the series with over 500 runs to his credit.

Australian captain Michael Clarke has been ruled out with a hamstring injury and so is fast bowler James Pattinson (buttock muscle strain). The loss of Clarke, who made a hundred in the last final is a big blow for Australia, who will be led by Shane Watson.

Clarke missed a few games in the first round due to the same injury and the side was captained by Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson in his absence. After aggravating the injury, he is set to miss the ODI leg of Australia’s tour of West Indies as well.

There were also injury concerns for opener David Warner and fast bowler Brett Lee, but the duo are expected to play. The hosts also recalled hometown spinner Nathan Lyon. The off-spinner, who made his Test debut against Sri Lanka last year will make his ODI debut if he plays today.

Sri Lanka too have injury concerns with all-rounders Farveez Maharoof and Angelo Mathews struggling. Mathews will undergo a fitness test today morning.

If Sri Lanka win this series, this will be their first triumph in international cricket after the ICC Cricket World Cup. Since last year’s World Cup, the Sri Lankans have suffered eight series losses, four in Tests and four in ODIs.

Sri Lanka’s best run in the tri-nation series in Australia came in 2005-2006 under Marvan Atapattu when the team took the hosts to the third final. The other occasion they qualified for the finals was in 1995-1996 under Arjuna Ranatunga.

Australia (Probable XI) David Warner, Matthew Wade (Wicketkeeper), Shane Watson (Captain), Peter Forrest, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Daniel Christian, Brett Lee, Nathan Lyon, Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty or Ben Hilfenhaus.

Sri Lanka (Probable XI) Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), T.M. Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (Wicketkeeper), Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Kapugedara or Angelo Mathews, Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath.

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