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15-Sep-2011 11:35:00 GMT
Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo

Aussies Drop Harris, Khawaja From Final Lanka Test

Colombo: Australia have left out injured fast bowler Ryan Harris and batsman Usman Khawaja for the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka starting in Colombo on Friday.

Harris, the most successful bowler in the series with 11 wickets, suffered a hamstring strain during the drawn second Test in Pallekele, and will be replaced by Peter Siddle.

Left-handed Khawaja was dropped to make way for former captain Ricky Ponting, who returns to the side after taking leave from the Pallekele Test for the birth of his second child.

Skipper Michael Clarke and the selectors had a tricky decision to make after Shaun Marsh, who replaced Ponting in the second Test, scored a century on debut to cement his place in the side.

"It's brilliant to have Ricky back, he was always going to walk back into the team," Clarke said ahead of a practice session at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) on Thursday.

"It is hard for Uzzie (Khawaja). It's obviously been a tough selection, but with Shaun making 141 on debut, it was really hard to leave him out," he added.

Clarke said resting Harris was a precautionary measure considering the heavy schedule ahead, which includes Test series against South Africa, New Zealand and India.

Clarke said Australia's 1-0 lead in the series after winning the opening Test in Galle by 125 runs had put the onus on Sri Lanka to call the shots.

Ponting and Siddle have been named in the starting XI for Khawaja and the injured Harris. Ponting will slot back in at No.3, with Marsh to slip down the order to No.6. The selectors decided against blooding the uncapped fast bowler James Pattinson.

If the hosts need inspiration, they need look no further than their former captain Kumar Sangakkara, who makes his 100th Test appearance on Friday.

Sangakkara, who turns 34 next month, will be the fifth Sri Lankan to play a century of Tests after Muttiah Muralitharan (132 matches), Mahela Jayawardene (121), Chaminda Vaas (111) and Sanath Jayasuriya (110).

Clarke paid rich tributes to the prolific left-hander, but hoped Australia will get him out early.

In the 18 Tests Sangakkara has played at the SSC, he has scored 1,864 runs at an awe-inspiring average of 74.56, with seven three-figure knocks, including three double centuries.

It was at the same venue that Sangakkara (287) and Jayawardene (374) recorded the highest partnership ever in Test cricket: 624 for the third wicket in 2006 against South Africa.

But Sangakkara has never featured in a Sri Lankan Test win over Australia, something the star batsman hoped to rectify.

Sri Lanka should regain the most experienced spinner in their squad, Rangana Herath, who missed the second Test due to a finger injury. However, the news was not so good for Ajantha Mendis, who did not play the first two matches and has been ruled out of the third due to a back complaint. Herath should replace the legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna, who made his debut in Pallekele and didn't pick up a wicket.

Teams from

Sri Lanka
Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), RMS Eranga, Rangana Herath, Kuamr Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Suraj Randiv, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Tharanga Paranavitana, Dammika Prasad, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thilan Samaraweera, HDRL Thirimanne, Chanaka Welegedara.

Australia Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, Michael Beer, Trent Copeland, Brad Haddin (wk), Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, RickyT Ponting, Peter Siddle, David Warner.

Pitch and conditions
The SSC surface tends to produce hefty first-innings scores - at least in the past few years - and the team that wins the toss will certainly be batting.

Stats and trivia

  • Sangakkara will become the fifth Sri Lankan to have played 100 Tests, after Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas and Sanath Jayasuriya
  • Tillakaratne Dilshan has captained four Tests without a win; the last Sri Lankan to have such a lean run at the start of his captaincy career was Hashan Tillakaratne
  • Had Shaun Marsh been dropped for Ricky Ponting he would have been the first Australian to score a century on Test debut and be left out of the next Test since Dirk Wellham

Match facts
September 16-20, 2011
Start time 10:00 local (04:30 GMT, 14:30 EST)

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