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What are Sri Lanka’s chances in Australia

Since 1985 Sri Lanka have played 40 ODI matches in Australia against Australia and have only won eight games and lost 32. That sounds more like a record that should belong to Zimbabwe or any associate nation than Sri Lanka. But it is not.

Sri Lanka have been woeful in all their tours to Australia. But can their fans Down Under expect anything different this time round or will it be the same dissapointing old story again?

In order to answer that question we must stop patting ourselves in the back and start facing the facts.

Can the openers take the attack to the Australians against the new ball?

The fire power in Sri Lanka’s batting line up has mostly been at the top. The onus has been on the openers to get them off to a quick start and put the opposition on the back foot early. Australia’s pace bowling attack and the extra bounce and pace on pitches in Australia have made this a tough task for the likes of Jayasuriya. Therefore it has always been a case of the middle order and lower middle order trying to repair the damage when the Aussies destroy to the top order early.

This time may not be any different. With Mahela Jayawardene opting to open batting much of Sri Lanka’s fire power rests at the top four batting positions. If the Aussies manage to dismiss Dilshan and Jayawardene early then the pressure will be on the skipper and other inexperienced young batsmen to perform.

Can Sri Lanka’s bowling attack curb the Australians?

In Malinga and Muralitharan Sri Lanka have two bowlers who can run through a side but their performances will depend much on the captain’s willingness to set attacking fields. In recent times Sangakkara has come under heavy criticism in the local media for being too defensive as a captain.

Suraj Randiv can look pretty innocuous but there is something about the lad that has made him Sri Lanka’s highest wicket taker in the last 12 months. Between 16 Oct 2009 and 16 Oct 2010 Randiv has taken 16 wickets from 11 matches at an average of 25.12 outdoing the likes of Malinga and Muralitharan. I expect Randiv to be one of the leading wicket takers on the tour.

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