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Australia vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test Preview: Tim Paine and Co. await a tricky Lankan challenge under the lights

For a side who are yet to register a win on Aussie soil in the 21st century, this series will be one heck of a challenge.

Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

No other Australian team managed to surrender to India on home turf before Virat Kohli‘s men broke the barriers and sealed a memorable 2-1 win. After that humiliating result, Tim Paine and company will now host Sri Lanka, who too have been struggling for form but unlike the hosts, their misery is a lot more intense.

After getting hammered at the hands of England at home and New Zealand away, Dinesh Chandimal’s team are certainly on the back foot. This challenge gets no easier as they kick-start the two-match Test series under the lights at Gabba. For a side who are yet to register a win on Aussie soil in the 21st century, this series will be one heck of a challenge.

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When India played Down Under in 2014/15, eight individual centuries were recorded by the hosts and in the recently concluded series, that number fell down to zero. Tim Paine as a captain may have been impressive but the team is failing to cope with the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner. This series will be a huge acid test for the Aussie top order, who are still hunting for rejuvenation.

Playing Combination

Australia

With senior cricketer Shaun Marsh receiving a cold shoulder, there are a plethora of changes in the batting order. Joe Burns will open with Marcus Harris, with Usman Khawaja coming in at three. Marnus Labuschagne had a horrendous game with the ball in Sydney, but he has been retained in the XI and will constitute the middle order with Travis Head and Tim Paine.

Jhye Richardson will be making his Test debut after an impressive performance in the ODIs against India. Kurtis Patterson is another debutant who is slated to bat at six. They will go with their regular three-man pace attack with one spinner in Nathan Lyon. Patrick Cummins and Mitchell Starc will be taking the brand new Pink ball for the hosts.

Playing XI: Joe Burns, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Kurtis Patterson, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c/wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson.

Sri Lanka

Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne might open for the Sri Lankan contingent with skipper Dinesh Chandimal coming in at three. Kusal Mendis, Roshen Silva, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella will comprise the middle order, who will be facing some intense music in the middle.

Three pacers + one spinner has been the bowling attack formula in recent years for any side and the visitors will be following the trend. Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha and Suranga Lakmal will be the speedsters with Dilruwan Perera providing spinning assistance for the other three bowlers.

Probable XI: Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Kusal Mendis, Roshen Silva, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.

Focus will be on

Joe Burns (Australia)

A couple of years ago when Joe Burns made his debut, it seemed like Australia found a perfect opening combination in Burns and Warner. Inconsistency halted his growth, but he once again is back in the side to prove his worth. His recent form in First-Class cricket has been decent and this is one golden chance for him to seal a spot for the coming few months.

Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)

The southpaw will be keen to pick up from where he left last year, who registered 743 runs in 9 Tests. He is one of the most experienced figures in the team currently and has a much bigger responsibility than seeing off the new ball. Anything good from his willow at the top will boost the Lankan morale big time.

Head to Head

Played – 29 | Australia won – 17 | Sri Lanka won – 4 | Draw – 8

Stat Attack

3 – Since the turn of the century, Sri Lanka have won just three Tests against Australia, all of them came in the three-match series in 2016.

61 – Tim Paine needs 61 runs to complete 1,000 runs in Tests.

Broadcast Details

TV – Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD

Match Timings – 8:30 IST; 13:00 local

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