After a really gripping limited overs leg of the tour, Sri Lanka and Australia now get rid of the coloured clothing, head to Galle and don the whites for the first of two Test matches which begins on Wednesday.
Those ODIs were extremely competitive and now the task at hand is for Sri Lanka to be likewise here with World Test Championship points on the line. Australia currently lead the way in that table so any points they can pick up here will be welcomed.
Having won those ODIs, Sri Lanka will be carrying plenty of confidence into this match with them, particularly as they will be well aware that the conditions will suit them nicely. Things have been a little inconsistent in the Test game for too long for Sri Lanka but a good series in Bangladesh recently has left them fourth in the World Test Championship standings so if they can come out on the correct side of these two matches they could be outside dangers for a place in the final next summer.
We saw a new crop of talent coming through for Sri Lanka in the T20s and ODIs but in the Test sphere it is very much the experienced crew who are trusted to deliver the goods. The feeling is that they are a little hit and miss with the bat in hand, especially in the middle order, so if they can make sure that department of their game works then they will be confident that with the spin options they have in their side that they can get the job done here.
Although the conditions weren’t necessarily optimum ones for Australia in the ODIs, I think some would have been surprised that they lost that series. The interesting thing in those outings was that it was the bat which let them down which was a surprise because although they prefer faster conditions with the bat, they do bat deep so to lose in the way they did was a surprise. In these matches you wonder if it will be with the ball where they need to prove themselves.
Australia know they are in a good position in the World Test Championship courtesy of their demolition of England over the winter but this competition is such that you can’t afford to rest on your laurels so they will need to get all they can out of these matches. These aren’t conditions where Australia generally thrive in but that represents the opportunity for them to end those narratives and become a side to be feared in all conditions.
Sign up for a Boylesports account to get up to £25 in free bets! Perfect offer for this series! Click the image below for this great offer! New accounts only. 18+ T&Cs apply. Gamble Aware.
It looks like Sri Lanka are going to go in with three main spinners which would mean a debut for Jeffrey Vandersay. Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews return in the Test team which means a much more experienced side.
Australia haven’t picked their side yet but there is a likelihood that they will play the same team that won in Pakistan recently. Glenn Maxwell was added to the squad as batting cover but he isn’t expected to make the team with Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne making up a third spin option.
Lasith Embuldeniya has a bit of a point to prove after a disappointing tour of Bangladesh but he is at one of his favourite grounds here and should have a batting unit in front of him that can allow him to bounce back in the style he needs to be a relevant force within this side. Although Sri Lanka are looking at playing three spinners in this match, Embuldeniya will start out as the main one so I’m expecting a lot of overs from him in this series opener.
He has a performance line for this match of 110.5 which probably wouldn’t interest me if he couldn’t bat but he has a top score in Test matches of 40 so he can hold a bat enough to hopefully knock off the 10.5 which will mean we only need five wickets from him. He has 32 wickets here in five games and has covered this total with just wickets in his last three matches on this ground. This is the ground that 40 came on though and with match wicket hauls of 10, six and seven in the last three outings here so looks good to cover in this one.
Back L.Embuldeniya’s Performance – Over 110.5pts for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Betfair