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12 August 2016 15:10

Third Test preview: Sri Lanka v Australia

Australia's Test team last suffered a series whitewash in 2012, and only four times overall, but they could find themselves losing to love if Sri Lanka win the third Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club.

Sri Lanka came into the series as the underdogs, but have rallied brilliantly thanks to superlative efforts from the likes of Rangana Herath and Kusal Mendis, and lead two nil going into the Colombo Test.

Australia are on the brink of losing their number one Test ranking as a result of this dire series, and they have won just once in their past 17 Tests in Asia. Steve Smith's side will need to find their feet against spin ASAP.

Sri Lanka have indicated that paceman Suranga Lakmal will return to the side, replacing Vishwa Fernando, who made his debut in Galle. It's a harsh replacement as he was not bad, but Lakmal's experience will be preferred.

The Aussies normally name their XI the day before, but they have opted to wait till the toss this time as batsman Adam Voges is struggling with a hamstring injury and they want to give him till the last minute before deciding.

If he doesn't play, then Shaun Marsh is the only other option in the top order, though uncapped Travis Head, who joined the squad ahead of the ODI series, was also seen batting in white pads in the nets.

Either way, it should be a battle of the spinners, with Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland eager to impress. Holland was fine on debut in Galle, but not overly impressive or dangerous, taking two wickets in total.

Key players

For Sri Lanka, series run leader Kusal Mendis will be key again. He's the only batsman with a century in the series, and the only batsman with more than 200 runs, a strong reflection of the poor batting overall.

For Australia, spinner Nathan Lyon will hope to improve upon the last time he played here in 2011, when he took no wickets. He has nine wickets in the series, and will hope to hit double figures and spare his side a whitewash.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results

2016 Second Test: Sri Lanka won by 229 runs in Galle
2016 First Test: Sri Lanka won by 106 runs in Pallekele
2013 Third Test: Australia won by five wickets in Sydney
2012/13 Second Test: Australia won by an innings and 201 runs in Melbourne
2012/13 First Test: Australia won by 137 runs in Hobart

Squads

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Janith Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal

Australia (confirmed): David Warner, Joe Burns, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

Details

Dates: 13-17 August

Morning session: 10:00-12:00 (04:30-06:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:40-14:40
Evening session: 15:00-17:00

On-field umpires: Chris Gaffaney, S Ravi
Third umpire: Richard Kettleborough
Match referee: Chris Broad

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