PALLEKELE: Michael Clarke will look to put his first Test series as Australia’s captain beyond Sri Lanka’s reach when the second match starts in Pallekele tomorrow.
The tourists won the first Test on a controversial dusty wicket in Galle by 125 runs last week to take the lead in the three-match series, Australia’s first in Sri Lanka since 2004. Clarke’s predecessor, Ricky Ponting, also began his captaincy stint in Sri Lanka with a 3-0 sweep seven years ago – going on to become Test cricket’s most successful captain with 48 victories.
Australia’s emphatic win at Galle over the lacklustre Sri Lankans suggests a similar whitewash is a distinct possibility, but Clarke was not taking anything for granted.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said the captain. “We didn’t come here to win one Test. We’ve come to win three. We have to be at our best.”
Clarke has reason to be wary of what lies ahead, especially in the second match, which has recently proved difficult for his team to win. Australia have lost five second-Tests in their last 10 series, winning four and drawing one.
The right-handed batsman himself has not made a Test century over 21 innings, but his 23 and 60 at Galle indicated a big knock was round the corner.
The tourists named debutant Shaun Marsh in the playing-eleven, the only change from the side that won in Galle.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, may bring back unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis after he was surprisingly excluded for the first Test.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2011.