It was an experimental young side which took on Sri Lanka in the two Twenty20 internationals at the start of their tour to the Emerald Isle. Needless to say, they were blown away by individual performances, first by wielding willow of Tillekeratne Dilshan and then by the wizardry of Ajantha Mendis. There were some performances of note as well, and Watson and Hastings impressed.
It is now time for Australia to play their first ODI after the quarter final exit in the World Cup, not counting their short tour to Bangladesh, under the regime of Micheal Clarke, full-time. Shane Watson was in devastating form in the second Twenty20 international, slamming five sixes in a 24 ball 57 and he will be joined at the top of the order by Brad Haddin. The middle order sees the return of the old guard, as Ricky Ponting, Micheal Clarke and Micheal Hussey will try to counter Mendis and his tricks. Shaun Marsh will in all likelihood occupy the last of the batting slots, but David Hussey might also be in the reckoning, particularly because of his ability to roll his arm over. Left armer Xavier Doherty is a better bowler than Steven Smith, but Smith can contribute with the bat, which leaves that position too in contention. Any two of Marsh, Smith, Doherty or Hussey should make the cut. John Hastings was impressive with the ball, the other day and he can also play the big shots which make him a certainty for the No.8 slot. The bowling will be carried by the experienced Brett Lee. Mitchell Johnson has faded out from the explosive start to his international career and Doug Bollinger will add the much needed zing to the pace battery.
On the other side, Upul Tharanga has returned from his three month suspension after the World Cup and is certain to feature, which means that Dilshan, Sangakkara and Jayawerdene form the core of a top heavy batting line up. Dinesh Chandimal had a very good series in England and will definitely feature in the middle order, while Angelo Mathews lends balance to the side. His catch of David Warner in the second T20 clearly showed that he was a smart cricketer. Thisara Perera should also feature as an allrounder while Jeevan Mendis and Suraj Randiv will fight it out for the spinners slot. It is a toss up between Lakmal and Herath for the final slot, and the feeling is that the pacer might get the nod.
It is all set to be an intriguing rivalry between two evenly matched teams, as Pallekele plays host to its first non-World Cup match. Who will come up trumps in the inaugural brawl? Ones guess is as good as mine.