Sri Lanka’s strong batting line-up suggests they should be matching Australia when it comes to compiling big totals (3rd Test: 11.30pm GMT, Wednesday).
However, the tourists have been dismal throughout this series. With the prolific Kumar Sangakkara ruled out with a fractured hand, prospects aren’t good for Mahela Jayawardene’s men in this Third Test.
Australia have enjoyed a return to form in 2012 and will be desperate for a positive start to a year in which Michael Clarke’s men face back-to-back Ashes series.
It’s unlikely that the Sri Lankans have been priced as high as 11/1 to win a match since they first began playing test cricket in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, those odds represent the poor state of their game right now and only the most optimistic of punters will be taking that price.
The visitors are relying too heavily on runs supplied by three men and with Sangakkara back home awaiting surgery, only Tillakaratne Dilshan and the skipper Jayawardene stand between this side and a 3-0 series whitewash. The Sri Lankan win seems unlikely to say the least but can the tourists force a draw?
There is always hope but Dilshan and Jayawardene will each need to score big runs and hope that they can find support from elsewhere. Angelo Mathews is a useful all-rounder who made 75 in the first game in Hobart but besides that knock there has been very little to encourage travelling supporters.
Further injuries have hampered Sri Lanka with wicket keeper Prasanna Jayawardene also suffering a break and there really is no good news for the tourists ahead of the decider in Sydney.
Australia will have batting issues of their own once Michael Hussey retires after this test but for now, the Aussie top order is almost at full strength. Shane Watson has been ruled out with a calf strain and this has led to Glenn Maxwell’s first test call up but the exciting talent of Maxwell should prove to be a more than able deputy.
Sri Lanka have been so weak that the Australian selectors have been able to rotate their bowling, giving Mitchell Starc a rest and awarding a first test cap to Jackson Bird during the second match in Melbourne. Bird illustrated the strength in depth by taking four wickets in the Melbourne game but expect to see the selectors switching things around again.
Starc is set to return, either at Bird’s or Mitchell Johnson’s expense but the reality is that Australia can afford the luxury of resting players due to the weakness of the opposition batting.
If Dilshan and Jayawardene can hit their best form then the Sri Lankans are more than capable of posting a first innings score in excess of 450 and that may ensure a drawn game. In all probability, it won’t happen and I’m backing the Aussies to complete that series whitewash in very quick time.
This Preview’s Betting Tip: Australia to win at 17/50 with BetVictor.