Australia v Sri Lanka 1st Test

Picture: Gregg Porteous/news.com.au
Phil Hughes returns for Australia against Sri Lanka. Picture: Gregg Porteous/news.com.au
Following the retirement of legendary batsman Ricky Ponting, Australia  enters a new era when it faces Sri Lanka  in the 1st Test starting at Hobart on Thursday. The Tasmanian ended his international career with a 309 run defeat to South Africa in Perth earlier this month and his former teammates will be determined to make amends for that defeat when it faces the tourists.

Phil Hughes  has been recalled to the Australian Test team for the first time in more than a year as a replacement for Ponting but will bat in the unfamiliar role of first drop prompting a top order reshuffle. David Warner  and Ed Cowan will continue to open the batting but Shane Watson  drops down a spot to number four. Despite being heavily criticised for a supposed poor technique, Hughes has already accumulated in excess of 1000 Test runs at an average of 34.58 and is the leading runscorer in the Sheffield Shield this season, having scored 518 runs from just 5 matches during the current campaign.

Peter Siddle  and Ben Hilfenhaus will slot straight back into the playing XI after being rested at the WACA meaning that Mitchell Starc  and Mitchell Johnson  are likely to fight it out for the final fast bowling berth. Spinner Nathan Lyon bowled less than 16 overs against New Zealand here last year however and with the Bellerive Oval pitch more conducive to the quick men, there is a chance that Australia fields a four pronged pace attack against the tourists.

As is usually the case with Sri Lanka, Kumar Sangakkara  and Mahela Jayawardene  will be pivotal to their side’s chances in Australia. The pair are the top two runscorers for Sri Lanka in 2012 and were also the only players to score a century when they were last in Australia for a Test series. The tourist’s attack managed to take just eleven wickets in that 2-0 series defeat and will be hoping for a better return this time around. With 55 wickets in just eight Tests this year, Rangana Herath  is this second leading wicket taker in the world and he will lead the attack, while the pace division will be spearheaded by veteran seamer Nuwan Kulasekara .

Sri Lanka has beaten Australia just once in the 23 Test matches between the sides, at Kandy in 1999. The Aussies have won eight of the ten five day matches on Australian soil with the other two ending in a draw . Last year’s seven run defeat to New Zealand at Bellerive Oval was the hosts first at the ground where they had previously won seven from nine.

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