Murali: Odds favour Oz
After Sri Lanka's abysmal showing in England, Muttiah Muralitharan, believes Australia will start the Test series in Sri Lanka as firm favourites despite their weaknesses against spin.
Australia are the current number one ranked Test nation, whereas Sri Lanka are ranked seventh after suffering a 2-0 series defeat in England.
Speaking to cricket.com.au, the spin legend granted Australia the favourites tag: “Australia is favourite at the moment because they have played good cricket in the recent past,
“Sri Lanka on other hand is struggling a bit in all forms of the game so Australia will have an edge over Sri Lanka.
“They have a chance of winning the series because the Sri Lankan side is very inexperienced as lot of players retired recently and they are rebuilding the side so they won’t be strong enough.
“Therefore, Australia I think will have a good chance of winning the series.
“If they use the conditions properly and play their spinners well they definitely have a chance.”
Australia would do well not to underestimate their opponents, who cannot possibly play as badly as they did in England when they return home. Australia have spent a lot of time preparing for this tour with a specially prepared spin wicket at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
The Australians have included two spinners in their sqaud and it is likely both, Stephen O'Keefe, and Nathan Lyon will play in conditions the quicks may find challenging.
The all-time leading Test wicket taker agreed with this move, saying: “Normally you have to play at least two spinners in Sri Lanka because wickets are slower,
“Sometimes wickets take lot of turn, otherwise we have slow wickets and fast bowlers do not have much assistance unless they reverse (swing) the ball.
“Swing bowlers don’t do much in the Sri Lankan conditions so that’s why the spinners come into play.
“They got to have variety to win series in Sri Lanka.
Australian opener Joe Burn's has spent extensive time preparing to play spin and Muralitharan has highlighted the need for Australia to tackle Sri Lanka's spinners well: “It is not just about how many spinners you have got. It is also about how well you are going to bat against spin.
“Rangana Herath is a very good bowler so they (Australia) will have to tackle him as well.
“You’ve got to put runs on the board for your bowlers to work on it.”
The great tweaker praised Australia's number one spinner, Nathan Lyon, saying: “He (Lyon) is a very good bowler, a very good off-spinner,
“He has proven himself in Test cricket and has taken a lot of wickets for Australia.
“He bowls in different conditions (in Australia) which are not much helpful for spin but on the turning wickets he has taken some wickets.
“So I think it’ll be a good opportunity for him to play in Sri Lanka because here wickets will have turn, especially in Galle.
Australia take on Sri Lanka in the first of three Tests in Kandy on July 26.
He can’t cheat this time: Tom Curran looks forward to renewing sibling rivalry
They are brothers in arms for England and Surrey but Tom and Sam Curran find themselves on opposite teams in the IPL.
Wicket milestones, Crawley’s heroics and collapses – England’s summer of cricket
After two-and-a-half months, 18 matches and six series across all formats the ride is over for the men’s team
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Sussex complete Blast quarter-final line-up
The final three places were confirmed, with the ties to take place on October 1.
On This Day in 2009: England avoid ODI humiliation against Australia
Graeme Swann took 5-28 as England ended the series losing 6-1.
Reece Topley impresses as Surrey edge closer to home tie in Blast quarter-finals
Topley left Hampshire in 2018 but the left-armer came back to haunt his former club with career-best figures of four for 20.
ICC Rankings: Bairstow and Woakes surge after ODI series against Australia
England remain in first place on the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League but are the only side to have played two series.
Fleming: This season is going to be very different tactically
Stephen Fleming has coached the Chennai Super Kings in nine of the 11 IPL tournaments the team has taken part in.
Rohit Sharma praises Mumbai Indians efforts to ease mental strain of bubble
All the Indian Premier League squads will have to stay inside their respective bio-bubbles for the six weeks of the tournament.