Steven Smith would want a spirited performance from his team before ending a forgettable Test series vs Sri Lanka © AFP
Steven Smith would want a spirited performance from his team before ending a forgettable Test series vs Sri Lanka © AFP

Australia have had a torrid run in the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka, so far. They were not only being dominated but also humiliated in the first two Tests at Pallekele and Galle respectively. After a disheartening start to the series, Australia have their hopes pinned to the ultimate Test at Colombo. As they have already surrendered the series after an agonising defeat at Galle after which Sri Lanka gained a 2-0 lead, Australia having nothing to lose. One can expect the visitors to come out hard and improvise to battle for glory. With Sri Lanka being five men down at lunch on Day 1, Australia have a golden opportunity to make a comeback and eye for a win. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs Australia, 3rd Test at Colombo

The unbeaten 188-run stand between Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva may have given the hosts the advantage at the end of Day One, Australia will believe that they can still go on to win the match, if they can bowl Sri Lanka out for early on Day Two. Australia will battle it out for pride and look to finish the tour on a winning note.

Spin and conditions have played a massive role behind Australia’s downfall in the series. Their batsmen, who inspire confidence, looked bereft of oomph against Sri Lankan tweakers. Out of the 40 Australian wickets fallen over the four innings in first two Tests, 37 have been scalped by Sri Lankan spinners. Such has been the domination of the tweakers, with the tormentor-in-chief being Rangana Herath with 15 scalps to his name. He was equally supported by Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandkan, who wrecked havoc one by one. ALSO READ: Sri Lanka’s batting unit finally looks formidable

What went wrong? How can it be changed?

Australian batsmen have lacked the sound technique of countering spin in the turning Sri Lankan conditions. The key is to rotate the strike and compel the bowler to make amendments, to be quick on their feet, stay low and play it as late as possible. Using soft hands and unsettling the bowler by using the depth of the crease along with getting to the pitch of the ball are some of the basics needed to counteract spin. Temperament plays a massive role as a spinner plays with a batsman’s mind and outfoxes him with his guile. They have to develop endurance to bid time at the crease and get used to the turn and conditions. Steven Smith showed some mettle in the first Test, but lacked support from the other end.

Nevertheless, past is past, but the quality side can resurrect their fortunes in the third Test and learn some priceless lesson, which could be crucial in the upcoming series against India. Australian bowlers were up to the mark, and did a commendable job with the red leather. Mitchell Starc was incredible in his comeback after a long break due to injury. He got the ball to swing and hit the right area on surfaces which hardly had any assistance for the pace bowlers. Australia banked on him and the lanky left-arm pacer delivered.

Nathan Lyon did a decent job along with Josh Hazlewood and should look to replicate similar magic in the final Test. Batting is what Australia need to pull on; they have some match-winning players who can transform the phase of the game in a session. There are few players who have immense experience of playing in the sub-continent like David Warner, Smith and Mitchell Marsh. In the last four innings, Australia have crossed the 200-run mark just once, which is shattering, considering the high standards they set. But they are a champion side and known for returning from the dead. If they reassess their approach and come up with a tactic to overcome Sri Lanka’s primary weapon – spin. They will certainly attain glory at Colombo. As of now, their batsmen have a huge mental barrier to overcome and will have to come out fighting.  ALSO READ: Day 1, Report: Dhananjaya de Silva’s maiden Test ton propels Sri Lanka to 214/5 at stumps

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen.)