With Australia 3-1 ahead in the five match one-day series, the visitors will be keen to carry on to finish the series on a winning note as well. Having been thrashed in the Test series 3-0, the Aussies would have been doing forward to do well in the one-dayers. And, they have proved to be worthy world champions, getting the better of Sri Lanka in every match but for the second match. They will go into the final ODI of the series on Sunday as undoubted favourites. Sri Lanka will have to play out of their skins to turn the tide.
The hosts are struggling in both departments of the game, and the injury to skipper Angelo Mathews, whose calf tear has ruled him out of the final match, will only make matters worse for the Sri Lankans. In an endeavour to change their fortunes, the hosts have made a few changes to the team for the final match. All-rounder Thisara Perera and left-arm spinner Lakshan Sandakan have made way for Niroshan Dickwella and Dasun Shanaka. On the other hand, Mathews has been replaced will veteran Upul Tharanga. As for leadership, Dinesh Chandimal should get it.
Speaking of Chandimal, he has been among the few bright spots for the hosts in an otherwise disappointing one-day campaign. With scores of 80, 48 and 102, Chandimal has been consistency personified. Kusal Mendis too has continued his good form from the Tests with a couple of fifties. With Tillakaratne Dilshan having retired, Sri Lanka have tried Dhananjaya de Silva up the order, and he immediately succeeded with 76 in the previous match. They would be keen for him to do well at the top. Avishka Fernando had a bad outing in the previous game, so he would be keen to make amends.
Australia have been way ahead of Sri Lanka in the series in spite of the fact that they too have had their injury woes. After Steven Smith left the tour early to keep himself fresh, Shaun Marsh and Nathan Coulter-Nile too have joined the injury list recently. David Warner has taken over the captaincy. And, while he has been impressive as leader, he has however struggled to be among the runs. The Aussies will want him to score some runs since he also struggled in the Test matches. George Bailey has been brilliant for the Aussies in the last two games, and would be looking forward to another big effort.
In the bowling as well, Australia have outshone the Sri Lankans. Left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc has been on top of his game. He did well in the Tests, and has continued the same in the one-dayers too. He has been well-supported by James Faulkner, who has used his variations to great effect once again. Josh Hazlewood though needs to pick up his game to an extent. In the spin department, leg spinner Adam Zampa has also made an impression. Among the fringe players, while Travis Head has done a reasonable job, Moises Henriques and Usman Khawja need to show better application.
--By A Cricket Analyst