COLOMBO: Australia captain Michael Clarke believes fending off the challenge posed by Sri Lanka’s spinners will be the key to clinching the three-Test series starting next week after his side pulled off a 3-2 win in the One-Day International (ODI) series.
The series, which opens at a traditionally spin-friendly venue in Galle on August 31, will be Clarke’s first as Test captain since taking over from Ricky Ponting after the World Cup.
Clarke said the ODI success would stand his side in good stead. “I think it’s been really good to get some cricket in these conditions,” said Clarke after his team’s four-wicket defeat in the fifth and final ODI.
“Looking at the result, I would imagine that the wickets are going to turn throughout. We need to be prepared for that.
“We have to be at our best as a batting group. We are fortunate we’ve got a lot of experience but we have to make some big scores.”
While spin poses a threat, it was Lasith Malinga who destroyed Australia in the final ODI after the tourists had sealed the series in their favour.
In the consolation match, Australia were comfortably placed at 210 for five before Ajantha Mendis and Malinga cleaned off the tail with the paceman becoming the first bowler to claim three ODI hat-tricks. The tourists were bowled out for 211before Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva put on 111 for the fourth wicket as victory was achieved with three overs to spare.
Some relief for Australia
However, there would be some respite for Australia as Malinga, who has quit Tests in a bid to prolong his limited-overs career, will not feature in the upcoming series.
“I think some are happy we don’t face him in the Test series,” said Clarke, who was named man of the series for scoring 242 runs in the five ODIs.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2011.