Aussies to play four pacemen
Australia will unleash a four-pronged pace attack on vulnerable Sri Lanka as they look to secure a series clean sweep.
Australia will unleash a four-pronged pace attack on vulnerable Sri Lanka as they look to secure a series clean sweep at the SCG Test.
Mitchell Starc, who was rested for the Boxing Day Test, returns to the XI and will form an ominous pace quarter alongside Jackson Bird, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson.
Young all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who was brought into the squad for the injured Shane Watson, misses out on a Test debut after being named 12th man.
Skipper Michael Clarke, who has again shrugged off any concerns over his hamstring to play, will move up the order to bat at No 4, with the retiring Mike Hussey at five followed by wicket-keeper Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson.
Johnson made a brilliant 92 not out in the Boxing Day Test and with the SCG pitch looking green it made it an easy decision to go with four pacemen.
"There's a fair bit of grass on the wicket," Clarke said when asked why they opted for four quicks.
"The boys bowled really well in the last Test match and bringing Mitchell Starc back into the team obviously helps our bowling attack, especially with the form he's in.
"And Mitchell Johnson is batting as well as an all-rounder now anyway.
"I'm confident we've got enough batting with Matthew Wade at six, Mitchell Johnson at seven and extra bowling which is a real positive for us."
While Maxwell was expected to get a start on the usually spin-friendly SCG wicket, Sri Lanka's struggles with the short ball and Johnson's improved batting means the Victorian misses out.
Asked if the Australians would continue to bombard Sri Lanka's batsmen with bouncers, Clarke said: "I wouldn't say that but you can expect some good fast bowling.
"I don't think it needs to be short all the time.
"We have plans for each individual player; some of those plans involve short pitch bowling but not necessarily for every player.
"You won't see anything ridiculous, it's about us executing our plans and catching well."
Usman Khawaja remains on standby for Clarke but the skipper is confident there won't be any last minute changes.
"I think my hamstring's better than it was in Melbourne. If I didn't think I could perform at my best I wouldn't take the field," he said.
"It certainly won't be because of my hamstring that I don't make a big score."
Clarke said the Australians are desperate to send Hussey out on a winning note after failing to do the same for former skipper Ricky Ponting in his last match against South Africa in Perth.
Australia: Michael Clarke (c), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell (12th man).