The Aussies have won four matches all summer, but Thursday’s First Test against Sri Lanka could be a chance for redemption.
Ranked No.6 in the world, just one spot behind Australia, Sri Lanka have lost four of their last five Test matches – although the visitors will fancy their chances with the green and gold down on confidence.
The market might suggest an upset is completely out of the question, but things could turn out to be a little closer than it seems at the Gabba. Be sure to check out our entire Australia vs. Sri Lanka First Test Preview below.
Best Bet: Australia Top 1st Innings Runscorer – Usman Khawaja @ $4.00
The selectors have come under fire all week after leaving the batting order looking relatively thin. The final Test side hasn’t been announced just yet, but Kurtis Patterson and Will Pucovski look to make their debut in Brisbane, leaving very few experienced heads at the crease.
Not for the first time this summer, Australia’s winning chances will fall into the hands of Usman Khawaja. He’ll likely open alongside Marcus Harris on Thursday, and the good news is he normally makes a respectable total at the Gabba.
In 2016 Khawaja finished with 78 combined runs across both innings against Pakistan, while his first Test century came in Brisbane against New Zealand a year earlier. Khawaja has only averaged 28-runs against Sri Lanka across his four Test matches, however his patience at the crease in the One Day Series was encouraging. With the weight of the winning chances on his shoulders, a big opening total should see Australia over the line.
Man of the Match: Nathan Lyon @ $11.00
A well-rested Nathan Lyon might just hold the key to a successful bowling attack. Josh Hazlewood has been rubbed out through injury, opening the door for fast-bowler Jyhe Richardson as his replacement.
The 22-year-old will play an important role for Australia, but not quite as much as Lyon. After resting during the final One Day match against India, Lyon’s numbers at the Gabba more than add up. He took five wickets in his last Test match in Brisbane against England in 2017, raising his career total at the Gabba to an astonishing 23.
A return to form is necessary for Lyon in Brisbane. He’ll play a vital part in the World Cup side if he’s selected, and after failing to record a wicket against India in the One Day Series, the Aussies desperately need the world’s top off-spinner to return to form. Brisbane is the ideal place, and Sri Lanka is the ideal opponent.
Sri Lanka Top 1st Innings Wicket-Taker: Lahiru Kumara @ $3.25
Sri Lanka could easily make this Test very interesting if Lahiru Kumara is at his best. In just 14 Test matches Kumara has already claimed 49 wickets, the most recent of which came in a losing effort against New Zealand. The 21-year-old has taken at least three-wickets in his last five matches for his country, and although he’ll play his first Test in Australia this week, the fast-bowler could pick up some wickets against Australia’s inexperienced middle order.
Dimith Karunaratne: Over 68.5 Total Runs @ $1.87
There’s very few batsman in the Sri Lankan order with experience playing in down-under. Dimith Karunaratne debuted in New Zealand before making his second ever Test start in Hobart in 2012, and while he’s never played at the Gabba before, he is averaging 37.08 runs with the bat.
A lot depends on the bowling attack, but Karunaratne could easily become a problem like Virat Kohli was for the Australians. He gave England plenty of grief last month making 63 and 83 in the First and Second Test, so don’t be surprised if the Sri Lankan vice-captain hangs around at the crease for a while.