Perth: An Australian side in the pinkest of form meet Sri Lankan opponents with plenty of improve upon following a first-up loss to India in a mediocre match that was also at the WACA ground. While the tourists will benefit from having played a match at the ground, a series of starts with the bat, some middling bowling and hesitance in the field - from the newly-appointed captain Mahela Jayawardene's field placements as much as his men's occasionally indifferent attacks on the ball - must be rectified if they are to get close to the hosts.
Michael Clarke's major concern as captain appears to be who to rotate out of the side to hand a debut to the adopted Queenslander Peter Forrest. None of David Warner, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey or his brother David will want to sit out, and the desire for a varied bowling attack would appear to keep Daniel Christian safe as the allrounder. The bowling attack functioned smoothly against India at the MCG despite losing Brett Lee, and Mitchell Starc in particular will look forward to another match in Perth after his strong Test showing at the ground.
Sri Lanka's rebuild after another change of cricket administration, captain and coach requires solid results to bolster confidence and create belief. Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal might have added to it had one gone on from a start to punch out a substantial innings against India, but as it was their series of starts allowed India the luxury of a chase where the required run rate was never stretched. Lasith Malinga can also produce the spark required, but may require more aggressive fields from his captain.
Australia WWLWL (Most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWWLL
In the spotlight
Mitchell Starc first made an impression as an international bowler against Sri Lanka at the Gabba in the third ODI played in late 2010. Now armed with the knowledge imparted by Wasim Akram, Starc has added consistency and later swing to his repertoire, and at the WACA ground he has a chance to push still further to retain his place once the likes of James Pattinson and Peter Siddle come under consideration for the second half of the series.
Angelo Mathews was a match-winner for Sri Lanka on their last visit down under, salvaging a game at the MCG that really should have been lost by a fair margin. He produced a quietly impressive display against India, cracking 33 unbeaten late innings runs then fetching 2 for 31 with the ball. As the man most likely to succeed Jayawardene as captain, Mathews will want to make a similar or greater impact against Australia, whose players grew to respect his batting on last year's tour of Sri Lanka.
Having flagged the inclusion of Peter Forrest for his debut, the Australian selectors must still decide who to leave out for him. David Hussey or Daniel Christian appear the most likely to make way, although the national selector John Inverarity suggested when naming the squad that senior batsmen like Ponting and Michael Hussey might be rested at times. Ben Hilfenhaus is in the squad as Brett Lee's replacement but the bowling attack should be unchanged.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Matthew Wade (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Michael Hussey, 6 David Hussey/Peter Forrest 7 Daniel Christian, 8 Ryan Harris, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Xavier Doherty, 11 Clint McKay.
Rangana Herath may be in line for a recall to the Sri Lanka XI on a Perth surface that offered some turn in the India match. He may come in at the expense of Lahiru Thirimanne, who seemed surplus to requirements batting at No. 8 and not bowling.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Lahiru Thirimanne/Rangana Herath, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Dhammika Prasad.
Pitch and conditions
The surface for the India v Sri Lanka match provided Perth's habitual bounce and pace but also appreciable spin, offering something to bowlers of all speeds and varieties. Expect something similar for this game.
Stats and trivia
Sri Lanka have never beaten Australia in eight ODIs played between the teams in Perth, and have won only two of 16 matches overall at the WACA ground, the last in 1996
Should he debut for Australia, Peter Forrest will be the first Queensland-based batsman chosen for the Australia ODI team since Jimmy Maher in 1998 - Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson and James Hopes have played as allrounders.
"Our plan was always to start well, and then through the middle give some development opportunities to some players and then pick our best team again. But results along the way determine that."
Mickey Arthur on Australia's triangular series strategy.