Cricket Australia

http://www.cricket.com.au/Global Items/news/2012/12/31/third-test-preview

Third Test Preview: Australia v Sri Lanka

UPDATED 12 February, 2013 2:29PM AEST | by Robert Somers, Omnisport 46

The scene is set for a fairytale farewell for Mike Hussey when Australia host Sri Lanka in the third Test starting Thursday in Sydney.

The visitors were pathetic in Melbourne, surrendering the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy inside two-and-a-half days of the Boxing Day Test.

Rarely has a side left the MCG in a more sorry state than Friday's third day of play as Australia bowled Sri Lanka out for 103 to claim victory by an innings and 201 runs and a 2-0 lead in the three-Test series.

Hussey's announcement on Saturday that he will retire from international cricket after this summer means the SCG will play host to another emotional goodbye to a custodian of Australia's 15-year stint of world dominance that started in the mid-1990s.

Adding to the match's interest is the possibility of a fourth Australian debutant of the summer.

With Phil Hughes already recalled to replace Ricky Ponting, Queensland batsman Usman Khawaja gets first crack at Hussey's spot, while uncapped Victorian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is also in the 13-man squad for the Sydney Test as injured Shane Watson's replacement.

Maxwell is tipped to bat at No.7 and comes with the bonus of bowling respectable off-spin while his cat-like agility in the field is arguably his best asset.

The customary adjustment to Australia's pace attack means selectors must make the tough call to drop one of the match-winning quicks from the Melbourne Test.

First-gamer Jackson Bird is likely to make way for Mitchell Starc, who was controversially rested last outing.

The left-armer's return will double as his first Test appearance in front of his home crowd.

The challenge for the tourists will be climbing off the canvas and lifting their drooping spirits.

Unluckily for Sri Lanka, their confidence was not the only thing to take a battering in Melbourne.

Leading light Kumar Sangakkara (broken hand) will miss the rest of the tour while wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene (fractured thumb) also bore the brunt of a Mitchell Johnson bouncer and is struggling to be fit for the SCG dead rubber.

The injuries don't end there, with Chanaka Welegedara's torn hamstring likely to sideline the fast bowler for at least a fortnight.

Paceman Suranga Lakmal and up-and-coming batsman Lahiru Thirimanne have joined the tour as potential replacements while Dinesh Chandimal is expected to play as a wicketkeeper/batsman and adds much-needed batting depth.

Thirimanne, dropped after Sri Lanka's series loss against New Zealand, has seven Tests to his name with a top score of 68, made against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last year.

Lakmal, 25, has been sidelined with injury since April but boasts a decent record against the Aussies, having claimed a career-best 3-55 in Galle last year.

Experienced quick Nuwan Kulasekara didn't play in Melbourne because of a cracked rib which he suffered in the first Test in Hobart but is winning his fight to be fit.

The SCG will again be bathed in pink in support of cancer charity the McGrath Foundation while fans attending are being encouraged to wear tributes to the late Tony Greig and Hussey.

Both teams will observe a moment's silence before the opening session and will sport black armbands during the match in honour of Greig, who died aged 66 after suffering a cardiac arrest while fighting lung cancer.

The match is Australia's last on home soil before next year's Ashes series, with a Test series in India plus an England-hosted Ashes series in between.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 31 December, 2012 5:37PM AEST

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