Domain Tests v Sri Lanka
Paine hints at bouncer barrage
Sri Lankans look to mimic batting efforts of Cheteshwar Pujara as Australia address bowling lengths of their quicks
Adam Burnett in Brisbane
23 January 2019, 05:01 PM AEST
As Australia set about plotting a bouncer-heavy strategy ahead of the first Domain Test against Sri Lanka in Brisbane, the tourists have been busy reviewing footage of Indian master Cheteshwar Pujara as they look to claim their own slice of history Down Under.
Like India before this summer, the Sri Lankans are without a Test series win in Australia. Unlike India, they have never won a single Test, their record from 13 matches amounting to 11 defeats and two draws.
While their captain Dinesh Chandimal is overseeing a side not without its own challenges, he is also patently aware it could be a long time before his country has an opportunity as good as this to roll over a struggling Australia on their home patch.
"India played some outstanding cricket throughout their series … between 40-80 overs they didn't give any runs in that period, they kept (Australia) to under three runs an over," Chandimal said.
"That's the area (where) I think they have won the series. We watched the game (while touring) in New Zealand and we have an idea (from that) when we are playing in these conditions what we have to do.
"One of my dreams is to win a Test match here, as a captain and as a player.
"This is really a good opportunity to make history and do that as a team."
While the Gabba this season plays host to the fifth Test of the summer – and with a pink ball under lights, at that – Australia's imperious record at the venue remains as one reliable reminder of a dominance that has come under constant threat in recent years.
It is more than 30 years since they were last beaten in Brisbane and much of that success has been built around a fast, grassy wicket, which captain Tim Paine hopes he sees unfurled tomorrow at the toss.
"I'm hoping it's nice and fast – I'm hoping it's a usual sort of Gabba wicket," he said.
"I had a look at it just then actually. It looks like it's got a little bit of grass on it, so hopefully there's plenty of bounce and it's good to watch."
Australia's bowlers didn't dismiss a single Indian leg-before wicket throughout the recent four-Test series and when quizzed about the quite remarkable statistic, Paine paid tribute to the visiting batsmen before offering a surprising explanation, and perhaps an insight into their strategy against the Sri Lankans.
"I thought India batted really well," he said.
"Subcontinent players at times when the wickets are good, like the ball being bowled at the stumps and they don't miss too many when they're in form.
"Clearly we need to be hitting the stumps a little bit more than we were – there's no doubt about that and that's been spoken about – (but) we also felt we didn't use our bouncer as much as we would have liked in that series.
"Sometimes when you're using your bouncer a couple of times an over, when you do pitch up it's a bit more effective.
"So there's two bits to that I suppose – the majority of the time we want to be hitting the top of the stumps a bit more, but there's also a way to set that up."
Sri Lanka's batting group – which could have a surprise inclusion in Lahiru Thirimanne earning a potential recall to the side for his first Test since November 2017 – have also taken notice of the way in which Pujara occupied the crease for sustained periods, sapping Australia's fast bowlers of energy in challenging conditions.
"Pujara makes the difference," Chandimal said of India's landmark series win.
"It is clearly hot here so (he) made the Australian bowlers (bowl) more spells.
"That's what Pujara did. After that it helps for the other batters to come in and enjoy their batting in the middle.
"So that's one area we learned from that series."
Domain Test Series v Sri Lanka
Australia: Tim Paine (c/wk), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha
Jan 24-28: First Test, Gabba (D/N)
Feb 1-5: Second Test, Canberra