Charge down the wicket with cricket tips for the Test series opener between Sri Lanka and Australia.
14:30 (AEST), Wed 29th Jun @ Galle International Stadium
History: Played 31: Australia 19 V Sri Lanka 4 (8 Draws)
Last meeting: February 1-4, 2019: Australia d Sri Lanka by 366 runs at Manuka Oval
Final Thoughts: Sri Lanka and Australia square off in the Test arena for the first time in more than four years in a Galle series opener. The home side carved out a 3-2 ODI series win to build some confidence before taking on the world’s top-ranked Test team.
Australia have played one Test series since their brutal Ashes triumph, beating Pakistan in Pakistan 1-0 with a third-Test win after two dour draws. Usman Khawaja was player of the series, averaging 165 with the bat. Pat Cummins’ eight-wicket contribution earner player of the match honours in the decider.
Sri Lanka swept West Indies 2-0 at home in November and bounced back from a 2-0 series loss in India in March with a 1-0 series victory in Bangladesh, winning the second Test by 10 wickets after the opener was drawn. Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne has been in sparkling form at Test level for the past 15 months, racking up four centuries and four fifties in his last 15 innings.
Australia are set to name the same side that prevailed in Pakistan. Khawaja will open with Warner, with Marnus Labuschagne – searching for his first overseas century – Steve Smith and Travis Head (if he overcomes a hamstring complaint, with Glenn Maxwell waiting in the wings) making up a formidable batting line-up. Mitchell Swepson will form a two-pronged spin attack with Nathan Lyon, with captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green the seamers.
Sri Lanka will be hoping Pathum Nissanka transfers his limited-over form to the Test stage at the top of the order alongside Karunaratne. Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal are all world-class performers. Lasith Embuldeniya shapes as the Lions’ key spinner but was disappointing against Bangladesh.
The nations last met at Test level in a two-match series in early-2019, with Australia winning by an innings in Brisbane and 366 runs in Canberra. Head scored 84, 161 and 59* in the series, while Pat Cummins was the player of the series with 14 wickets.
But Sri Lanka carved out a 3-0 series win (accounting for three of their four all-time Test wins in the rivalry) when Australia last visited in 2016.
Australia are $2.37 favourites to go up 1-0 – and Sri Lanka shape as decent value at $3.60. After Khawaja’s heroics in Pakistan on the back of his stunning Ashes comeback, expect him to anchor Australia’s batting in tricky Sri Lankan conditions.