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Burns and Khawaja 'unlucky': Lehmann

Head coach seeking change in fortunes and backs batting against spin by Shaun Marsh and Moises Henriques

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has said dropped batsmen Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja have been "unlucky" to miss out on the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Lehmann and National Selector Rod Marsh sprung the double change for the third Test, which Australia must win to have any hope of retaining their world No.1 ranking, despite already being 2-0 behind in the series.

SCORECARD: Sri Lanka v Australia

The Queensland teammates were dropped for Western Australia batsman Shaun Marsh and NSW allrounder Moises Henriques in a move Lehmann said would strengthen the batting line-up because of their skill against spin.

"We haven't had the results we would have liked here in Sri Lanka," Lehmann said.

"We've picked a squad we think can play in these conditions. Shaun and 'Mo' are very good players of spin bowling.

Shaun Marsh boasts a good record in Asia

"So they come into the side at the expense of Joe who's unlucky and 'Uz' who's unlucky.

"It's just the way it has been this tour. So we've got to try to change it around and change our fortunes and see how they go on these types of tracks."

Left-hander Marsh earns a recall for the first time since he posted a career-best 182 against the West Indies in Hobart, following which he was left out when Khawaja returned from injury.

Moises Henriques warms up for his fourth Test // Getty
Moises Henriques warms up for his fourth Test // Getty

Allrounder Henriques plays just his fourth Test and his first since his debut series against India in 2013. Henriques made a splash on debut, scoring 68 and an unbeaten 81 against India in Chennai, but fell away in the remainder of the series with scores of 5, 0, 0, 2.

Burns had posted scores of 3, 29, 0 and 2 in the series, while Khawaja had returned tallies of 26, 18, 11 and 0.

"It's a tough call on those two younger guys but it's only for this Test match," Lehmann said.

"We'll have a look going forward at home. It's different conditions.

"The way the wicket is, it's very dry, probably drier than the previous two.

"Let's see how they play and hopefully it's a good Test match."

Also on Australia's mind will be next year's four-Test tour of India in February and March, where the tourists could again reasonably expect to be greeted with extremely dry, spinning pitches.

Burns and Khawaja were recalled to Australia's Test side for last summer's opening match against New Zealand in Brisbane, where both scored their maiden Test centuries.

The duo had posted a combined seven centuries in 10 Tests since they were recalled, but have joined their batting teammates in being well below their best so far in Sri Lanka.

Burns' axing comes two Tests after he scored a match-winning double of 170 and 65 in Australia's victory over New Zealand in the second Test in Christchurch in February, while Khawaja scored 140 in the first Test of that series.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith