Struggling Oz desperate to retain crown
COLOMBO — Struggling Australia face losing their crown as the world’s No 1 team unless they can prevent a rampant Sri Lanka from completing a series whitewash in the final Test beginning this weekend (13-17 August).
Steve Smith, who had an unbeaten record as Test skipper ahead of the three-match series, will be desperate to go home with a consolation victory to prevent either India or England taking over at the top.
Australia were only handed the ceremonial mace that the International Cricket Council awards the top-ranked Test team at the start of the series and allrounder Mitchell Marsh admitted it
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“It means a hell of a lot. It’s what we strive for,” Marsh said ahead of the final Test in Colombo.
“It would be very disappointing if we lost that — we haven’t had it for that long, we were really hoping to try and stretch the gap.”
Australia had only ever lost one Test match against Sri Lanka before the series, but were totally outplayed by their hosts in the first two Tests who have belied their place at No 7 in the rankings.
If Sri Lanka can win the series finale at the capital’s Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), it will be their first whitewash against a major team since they attained Test status 35 years ago
The SSC is traditionally a high-scoring venue but Australia’s batsmen have had a miserable tour and managed only one half-century between them in the defeats in the earlier Tests in Pallekele and Galle.
Australia could well call up the left-handed Shaun Marsh, who scored a century in one of the warm-up matches, after coach Darren Lehmann indicated there would be changes to the top order.
“Well anywhere from one to six (in the batting order), everyone in the squad will be considered,” Lehmann said. “That’s what happens when you don’t have the results you would like.” — AFP.