Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews predicted more trouble ahead for Australia’s beleaguered batsmen in the final Test, saying the pitch in Colombo would be a “spinners’ paradise”.
Mathews’ side have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series and now have the chance to register their first whitewash against a major team since gaining Test status in 1981.
Australia’s batsmen have found Sri Lanka’s trio of spinners — Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan — unplayable at times and have only scored one half-century between them in the first two Tests.
The Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) is traditionally a high-scoring venue but Mathews expected it to assist his spinners from the off as he made clear Sri Lanka were in no mood to go easy on their visitors.
“It’s going to be a turner. SSC traditionally has been good for batting, but since late it has helped spin bowling a lot,” Mathews told reporters on the eve of the match.
“It will turn from day one and it will be a spinners’ paradise once again.”
After being soundly beaten in the first two Tests in Pallekele and Galle, the Australians are now in danger of losing their status as Test cricket’s number one ranked side if they go down 3-0.
“We are not satisfied with 2-0 we need to go for a 3-0 whitewash,” Mathews said. “We are excited. Everyone is geared up and not taken the foot off the gas.“We have trained extremely hard in the last couple of days. Hopefully we can go out there once again and beat the Aussies again.”
Mathews indicated that Sri Lanka, who have been troubled by the recent injuries to their fast bowlers, could call up medium-pacer Suranga Lakmal in place of Vishwa Fernando in their starting XI.His opposite number Steve Smith held back from naming his line-up as he revealed that batsman Adam Voges was an injury doubt.
“We will wait till the toss. We are waiting on Adam Voges who has some issues with his hamstring from the last game, so we will see how it goes,” Smith said. Australia, who were handed a ceremonial mace at the start of the series to mark their ascent to the top of the Test rankings, could be overtaken by both England and India by the time they return home.
A whitewash would revive unfortunate memories of their last tour of the sub-continent in 2013, when they lost all four Tests against India in a series which was marred by a spat between senior players.
Smith played down the significance of losing the number one spot to India or England, who are leading their respective series against the West Indies and Pakistan.
“I haven’t really thought about the ranking to be perfectly honest with you,” Smith said.
“It’s been a disappointing series from all aspects so far, so this is another opportunity to play in the sub-continent on what looks like another tough wicket.
“I dare say it will take a bit of spin like the last two ones. So for us we haven’t been good enough on these wickets so far.”
Despite their struggles in the first two Tests in Pallekele and Galle, Smith said Australia’s batsmen would still play with a positive mindset.
“You have to think proactively. If you sit there and try and defend all day, one’s going to have your name on it. So you have to be willing to play with a bit of courage to take the game on,” said Smith.
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