| MURALI: Set to be back
Sydney: Australia one-day captain Ricky Ponting believes his side will struggle to replace injured bowlers Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie in the triangular ser ies against England and Sri Lanka.
Australia will host Sri Lanka in Sydney on Thursday as the series resumes after a break for the fourth and fifth Ashes Tests in late December and early January.
Australia would be without Warne (dislocated shoulder), McGrath (side strain) and Gillespie (elbow injury) on Thursday but this would give Andy Bichel and Brett Lee important opportunities ahead of next month’s World Cup in South Africa, Ponting said.
“It’s (the bowling stocks) going to be a bit thinner than what we’re used to. Having our three best bowlers out is going to be difficult for any side to cover,” Ponting told reporters.
“We still have Brett Lee bowling very well at the moment. Bichel bowled well in the Test match and batted well and Shane Watson will be our first change bowler Thursday.”
Ponting said it was great to see World Cup squad member Andrew Symonds, who has been named in Australia’s 12 for Thursday’s game, hit 81 from 59 balls in an exhibition match for Australia A against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
“He hits the ball as hard and as far as anybody. He’s dynamic in the field and he can do a job when he’s needed with medium pace or spin,” Ponting said.
Sri Lanka, who suffered a humiliating 10-wicket loss to Australia A on Tuesday, are set to recall off spinner Muttiah Muralidharan for Thursday’s game.
Murali missed Sri Lanka’s first three matches, all losses, in the triangular limited-overs series after undergoing a hernia operation in November.
“We expect him (Murali) to play.” Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore said in Adelaide.
Sanath Jayasuriya’s side has lost twice to England and once to Australia in the 2002-03 triangular series, which began with five matches last month.
“We would expect a couple of changes at least based on that performance (against Australia A),” added Whatmore.
‘Murali world’s best’
Ponting believes Muralidharan is the world’s best bowler and playing against him is largely guesswork.
Batsmen had to fend off Murali while trying to score heavily from the other Sri Lanka bowlers, Ponting said.
“Who knows'” said Ponting on Wednesday when asked how his batsmen would handle the 30-year-old.
“I think just knowing how important a player he is for their side, you negate him as much as you can and try to score off the other bowlers,” Ponting told reporters.
“The world’s best bowler coming back into any side is going to help them, probably more so for Sri Lanka. They really feed off him and run off him.”