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07-Sep-2011 08:28:00 GMT
Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Test, Pallekele

Australia Eye Series Win, Marsh Set for Debut at No. 3

Pallekele: Shaun Marsh will bat at No. 3 for Australia in place of the absent Ricky Ponting in the second Test in Pallekele, after Michael Clarke confirmed an otherwise unchanged XI to face Sri Lanka in Pallekele on Thursday.

Shaun Marsh replacing Ponting, who returned home after Galle to await the birth of his second child.

Michael Clarke will look to put his first Test series as Australia's captain against Sri Lanka.

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.

The Sri Lankan board faces sanctions from the International Cricket Council, which said on Monday that match referee Chris Broad had expressed his "concerns over the quality of the pitch" in his report.

Clarke's predecessor, Ricky Ponting, also began his captaincy stint in Sri Lanka with a 3-0 sweep seven years ago and went 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," he said. "We didn't come here to win one Test match, we've come to win three Test matches. We have to be at our best always.

Clarke has reason to be wary of what lies ahead, especially in the second Test of a series. Australia have lost five second Tests in their last 10 series, winning four and drawing one.

Clarke 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 for the stylish right-hander.

Australia return to Pallekele for the second time on the current tour, having lost two Twenty20 matches against Sri Lanka there before winning the first one-day international by seven wickets.

The Pallekele wicket is expected to play better than the one in the first Test, although it mattered little to the tourists that the surface in Galle was tailor-made for spin.

Australia's seamers, led by Ryan Harris' 5-62, picked up nine of the 10 Sri Lankan second-innings wickets. Debutant off-spinner Nathan Lyon grabbed 5-34, including a wicket with his first delivery, in the first innings.

The left-hander, son of former Australian opener Geoff Marsh, is not a novice to the big stage, having played in 35 one-day internationals and five Twenty20 games.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, may bring back unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis after he was surprisingly excluded for the first Test.

Mendis could replace off-spinner Suraj Randiv, who claimed 2-76 in the first innings at Galle, but returned wicketless in the second despite the helpful track.

The hosts will aim to improve their batting after being shot out for 105 in the first innings. They made 253 in the second on the back of a classy century from Mahela Jayawardene and 95 from young Angelo Mathews.

Teams from

Sri Lanka:
Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Angelo Mathews, Suraj Randiv, Suranga Lakmal, Chanaka Welegedara, Lahiru Thirumanne, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath.

Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, Philip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Trent Copeland, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Michael Beer, David Warner.

Pitch and conditions
After the pitch in Galle was reported to the ICC by the match referee, a more equitable surface is expected in Kandy. The grass will be shaved off, but more moisture is likely, meaning no clouds of dust on the first day, while the assistance for the spinners may not arrive until later in the game.

Stats & trivia

  • Shaun Marsh and his dad Geoff will become only the second father-son combination to play Test cricket for Australia, after Ned Gregory, who was part of the very first Test match in 1877, and his son Syd, who played the last of his Tests in 1912
  • The Pallekele International Stadium, near the hill city of Kandy, has hosted just one Test, against the West Indies in December, which was rained off without one innings being completed.
  • Marsh's inclusion means Australia will have had five debutants in three Tests, stretching back to the Sydney Ashes Test. But it's not the first time that's happened recently: five baggy greens were handed out in the space of two Tests against South Africa in early 2009
  • Mahela Jayawardene has drawn level with Don Bradman on the list of most centuries in Test cricket, with 29.

Match facts
September 8-12, 2011
Start time 10:00 (04:30 GMT, 14:30 EST)

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