Sri Lanka played some wonderful cricket in the Test series against Australia to win 3-0, but the home team could not continue their impressive run in the ODI format. Australia have already clinched the five-match ODI series 3-1, and will be keen to finish the 50-over contest on a high with a win as the two teams are set for the fifth and final ODI in Pallekele on Sunday.
The hosts, on the other hand, will hope to emerge victorious in the fifth ODI as it will help them finish the series with a respectable scoreline 2-3. But, it is not going to be easy for Sri Lanka as Australia are upbeat after their terrific win in the last ODI by 6 wickets.
To make matters worse, skipper Angelo Mathews will not be available for the match as he has been ruled out with a calf tear. In Mathews' absence, Dinesh Chandimal will lead the side in the fifth ODI.
The main problem for Sri Lanka in the ODI series has been their batting. Their batsmen have not been able to help Sri Lanka post good total for their bowlers. Besides the second ODI, where they scored 288 runs, Sri Lanka have only managed to score 227, 226 and 212 runs, which is too low for any team.
Chandimal and Kusal Mendia have been decent with the bat, but other players need to stand up and be counted.
Australia should be applauded for the way they have handled the slow tracks in Sri Lanka. They have chased wonderfully well to clinch the series. Batsmen like Aaron Finch and George Bailey have handled the conditions well. Along with Bailey, there were some other Australians, including wicket-keeper, Matthew Wade, who came over to the island nation for the ODIs only.
Wade is pleased with the way they have countered the pitches in Sri Lanka.
"The wickets have been some of the toughest you'll get in one-day international cricket, we've come from the West Indies, which took spin. You don't usually play on used wickets back to back in one-day internationals. It hasn't been suited to the way we play, but we've adapted really well. We are playing a few more quicks than what they (Sri Lanka) are, but with variable bounce and reverse swing, we've countered their spinners," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Wade as saying.
Though the talking point in the series might have been the pitches used, it will be interesting to note the 22-yard-strip for the fifth ODI. Pallekele has been one of those venues where seamers have got some assistance, and if the pitch has some bounce and carry, Australia might finally be pleased with the playing surface as bowlers like Mitchell Starc can be deadly under such conditions.
Irrespective of the pitch, both teams are aware of the need to play quality and consistent cricket for 100 overs to win the match.
Where to watch live
Sri Lanka vs Australia 5th ODI is scheduled for 2.30 p.m. local time (2.30 p.m. IST, 10 a.m. BST, 7 p.m. AEDT) start. Live Streaming and TV information can be found below.
India, Sri Lanka and rest of sub continent: TV: Ten 3 and Ten 1 HD. Live Streaming: Ten Sports Live.
Australia: TV: Fox Sports. Live Streaming: Foxtel.
South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: TV: SuperSport5. Live Streaming:SuperSport Live Video.
USA: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV Online.