Having flown to Australia direct from New Zealand on Sunday, the national cricket team has settled in Hobart ahead of the two match Test series that gets underway next week. The Sri Lankans were supposed to play a three day warm-up game starting Thursday at the Bellerive Oval, the venue that witnessed Kumar Sangakkara’s epic 192 in 2007.
The warm-up was converted into a day-night fixture in a bid to help the tourists prepare well for the pink ball Test match in Brisbane that will get underway on the 24th of January.
However, with Sri Lanka opting to give all the squad members a go, the match will not have First Class status, sources told The Island. The game now will be a mere center-wicket practice only, with players rotated in an out.
The hosts had assembled a strong team for the only warm-up game ahead of the Tests.
Having suffered a first ever series defeat to India at home, Australia’s inexperienced batting line-up will be under pressure, but it remains to be seen how Sri Lanka’s raw pace attack will perform.
The hosts will not have the services of Steve Smith and David Warner, who are serving a one year suspension after the ball tampering controversy in South Africa last year.
Australia also have axed the experienced Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch, who had a poor series against India.
The biggest surprise in the Australian squad is Will Pucovski, the 20-year-old Victorian batsman, who posted 243 in a Sheffield Shield game against Western Australia earlier in the summer.
Pucovski along with Matt Renshaw, Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne will feature in the three day warm-up game against the Sri Lankans.
It was the Sri Lankans who christened Bellerive Oval as a Test venue in 1989 and 30 years later, they will play the inaugural Test match in another Australian venue with Manuka Oval in Canberra set to host its first Test match.
Both sides have struggled in recent times and the official ICC Rankings show that. While the Aussies are ranked fifth, Sri Lanka are at sixth position.
Having been axed from the side after the tour of India in December 2017, top order batsman Lahiru Thirimanne is expected to make a comeback in the opening Test in Brisbane. Thirimanne is expected to play as an opener partnering Dimuth Karunaratne.
Sri Lanka have never won a Test match in Australia.
Cricket Australia XI for warm-up game: Joe Burns (Captain), Kurtis Patterson, Scott Boland, Jake Doran, Jon Holland, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Will Pucovski, Jason Sangha, Matt Renshaw, Chris Tremain