Sri Lanka v Australia Tests - Men
Starc holds spot, Maxwell left out for second Test
A last-minute inspection of the Galle pitch has seen Australia opt for an unchanged line-up while Sri Lanka debut three players in the second of Galle's back-to-back Tests
Louis Cameron in Galle
8 July 2022, 03:00 PM AEST
Glenn Maxwell's dream of a Test comeback has been shattered on the morning of the Sri Lankan tour finale as Australia took an unchanged side for the clash in Galle.
Before Pat Cummins won the toss and elected to bat first, there had been intrigue as the visitors left it until the eleventh hour to make a call between Maxwell and Mitchell Starc for the final spot in their team.
Australia's brains trust, including head selector George Bailey, coach Andrew McDonald and captain Cummins, could have been mistaken for an early-morning yoga class as they got down to hands and knees on Friday morning to inspect the strip prepared for the second Test.
Ultimately they decided it is firmer than the diabolical first-Test surface that was over in record time last week, making the extra lower-order batting and off-spin bowling Maxwell offers less valuable than Starc's left-arm pace.
Maxwell was visibly downcast after receiving the news of his non-selection less than an hour before play was to begin.
The 33-year-old bowled to Steve Smith in the nets to assist with his teammate's preparation before throwing balls on his own at a stump on the outfield.
Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Swepson
Sri Lanka XI: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Ramesh Mendis, Maheesh Theekshanna, Prabath Jayasuriya, Kasun Rajitha
It marks the fourth consecutive Test of Australia picking the same XI.
"Looks like a good wicket, looks a little bit firmer than last week," Cummins said at the toss.
"I think just the class of Starcy (saw him picked). It looks like a good wicket so I don't think it will be as exaggerated spin from day one and Starc, with bat and ball, is a key player."
The entire square remains well-watered – the pitch used for last week's first Test has already seen a healthy coverage of grass grow back over it – meaning both teams should find reverse swing hard to come by.
The COVID-19-ravaged Sri Lankans on the other hand have been forced into making four changes and have included three debutants in Maheesh Theekshana, Kamindu Mendis and Prabath Jayasuriya.
The three latest COVID-19 cases – Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay and Asitha Fernando – all played in the 10-wicket defeat against Australia, while Praveen Jayawickrama has also gone down.
Lasith Embuldeniya has also been axed after a poor Test.
Kamindu is a batting allrounder who has previously made headlines for his ability to bowl spin with both arms, Theekshana is a crafty mystery spinner who has had strong limited-overs returns while Jayasuriya is a journeyman left-arm orthodox bowler who took 7-17 in a domestic one-dayer earlier this week.
Jayasuriya edged Dunith Wellalage, the teenage allrounder who captained Sri Lanka's U19 World Cup team earlier this year and impressed against Australia in the recent ODI series, for a berth.
Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Maheesh Theekshana, Lakshitha Manasinghe, Dunith Wellalage, Prabath Jayasuriya, Lakshan Sandakan
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner. Standby players: Matthew Kuhnemann, Todd Murphy
June 29 - July 3: Australia won by 10 wickets
July 8-12: Second Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST
Sri Lanka v Australia Test matches will be screened live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports