Aussies Eye Series Whitewash

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Michael Clarke scored 329* against India at the SCG last year. Photo: Getty Images/
Australia  will be hoping to send veteran middle-order batsman Michael Hussey out a winner in the 3rd and final Test against Sri Lanka  starting at the SCG on Thursday. Since ‘Mr Cricket’ announced his retirement on Saturday, much of the focus has shifted from the fact that Australia can seal a series whitewash with a win against the tourists after hammering them in Hobart and Melbourne. A 137 run victory at Blundstone Arena, followed by an innings and 201 run success in the Boxing Day Test means that Michael Clarke’s side will be full of confidence here.

Despite Usman Khawaja remaining with the squad as cover for the injured skipper, Michael Clarke  will line up in Sydney after training strongly in the leadup to the match. Vice-captain Shane Watson is out through injury again however, and the hosts will bring Mitchell Starc  back into the team as part of a five man bowling attack. Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade  will move up a slot to bat in the top six, while Mitchell Johnson has also been elevated in the order after being stranded on 92 at the MCG. Unlike some other players to have retired in recent times, Michael Hussey  appears to be going out at the top of his game having scored three centuries in his past six Test matches and will want to sign off with a fairytale ton, while Clarke himself will have fond memories of the SCG having scored an unbeaten 329 against India at the ground 12 months ago.

The injury ravaged tourists are set to make a host of changes to their squad after finishing the Boxing Day Test with just eight fit men from the 11 that took the field. Kumar Sangakkara has been ruled out of the remainder of the tour after fracturing his hand when hit by a Mitchell Johnson bouncer, meaning that Sri Lanka are without their best batsman, while fast bowler Chanaka Welegedera has also been ruled out. The left arm quick took six wickets in Hobart but suffered a hamstring injury during his 15th over in Melbourne that sidelined him for the rest of the match. Wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene suffered a hairline fracture on his thumb after being another victim of Johnson’s at the MCG, while Nuwan Kulasekara missed the 2nd Test with a cracked rib. Both remain doubtful to line up on Thursday, with Lahiru Thirimanne  and Suranga Lakmal added to the squad as cover.

Dinesh Chandimal  will replace Sangakkara and also keep wicket, while back-up paceman Nuwan Pradeep  or offspinner Suraj Randiv  will take the place of Welegedera. While Australia farewells Michael Hussey after this match, this will be Mahela Jayawardene’s  final match as Test skipper.

Australia has a good record at the SCG, having won 15 of the past 18 Test matches at the ground. Only one Test match in Sydney since 1995 has ended in a draw , with the past nine all producing a result.

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