CANBERRA (AFP) –
Sri Lanka head to Hobart and next week’s opening Test against Australia after drawing their only leadup match against the Chairman’s XI in Canberra.
The tourists added a further 120 runs to close their innings at 396 for six in reply to the invitational side’s 439 for six declared before mutually agreeing to end the tour match two sessions early as a draw on Saturday.
But while the Manuka Oval deck was back-breaking work for the bowlers, the Sri Lankans cannot expect anything similar when they face up to the Australian attack on the seam-friendly Bellerive wicket in Friday’s first of three Tests.
The Sri Lankan team will leave for Hobart on Sunday to continue their preparations, but their minds are focused on the challenge ahead.
While only Dhammika Prasad was a multiple wicket-taker for the tourists, and perhaps only Shaminda Eranga (1-22 off 13 overs) impressed from the fast bowlers, the make-up of their Test bowling attack remains unknown.
Wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene, who scored 71, confirmed star left-arm finger spinner Rangana Herath and paceman Nuwan Kulasekara will be in the Test team.
But Jayawardene refused to rule out taking both Herath and offspinner Suraj Randiv into the opening Test.
“It will depend on the wicket — we’ll have to go down there and see,” Jayawardene told reporters.
“Management and captain (Mahela Jayawardene) will do that. We’ll go with the good side and a good attitude. We’ll try to do our best.”
Tasmanian allrounder Luke Butterworth, who had rising star Dinesh Chandimal (57) out to a brilliant Glenn Maxwell catch, said the Sri Lankans were in for a surprise when they arrived at Bellerive.
“Yeah, it might be a bit of a shock,” Butterworth said, pointing out they will need to spend plenty of time adjusting on the practice wickets.
“I think they’ll adapt but it’s definitely going to be a lot different to the wicket out here (in Canberra).
“(The wicket) was pretty flat when I left there. I think (curator Marcus Pamplin) is going to put a fair bit of work into it.
“There’ll be a fair bit in it, day one. But I don’t think it’s going to be a typical Sheffield Shield wicket when 20 wickets fell in two days.”
Butterworth was full of praise for Sri Lanka’s powerful batting line-up after Chairman’s XI batsman Scott Henry smashed an unbeaten 207 in the hosts’ big innings score.
“They batted really well,” Butterworth said.
“You can tell they’re a high-class batting team. They showed that out there and it was tough to knock them over.”
Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who averaged just seven in three innings in the series against New Zealand last month, contributed a polished 55 in a strong partnership with veteran opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (101, retired).
Prasanna Jayawardene said Sangakkara was back to his best and will score runs against the Australians.
“He’s a brilliant player. He can always get to the top level,” Jayawardene said.
“He’ll always do good things. I think he batted really well. He’s in the form now. He’s on the right track.”
Dilshan said he was unconcerned about the Bellerive wicket, saying he and his fellow top order were prepared to score runs in any conditions.
“I don’t mind if it’s green or flat,” he said.Published 08 Dec 2012, 13:48 IST