Mitchell Starc has been Australia's top bowler in Sri Lanka so far © AFP
Mitchell Starc has been Australia’s top bowler in Sri Lanka so far © AFP

A chance to create history and an attempt to save their pride, Sri Lanka and Australia will have contrasting goals to fulfill as they head to Colombo for the third and final Test of an already decided Test series. A 17-year jinx was broken at Galle, when Australia’s woes were feasted upon by the Sri Lankan spinners. A humiliating 229-run loss for Steve Smith and co. has brought them on the verge of losing their cherished Test crown. If they lose, Australia, will have to surrender their No. 1 Test rank to either India, England or Pakistan, as other series’ will reveal. Therefore, with plenty to prove to their critics, Australia might well come out with a different strategy, different team at Colombo, here’s what changes they could make. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs Australia, 3rd Test at Colombo

Top Order: David Warner, one of Australia’s best batsman, after a poor start to the Test series at Pallekele did manage to top score for Australia in both the innings at Galle. But that does not tell the whole story. While spin has been a nightmare for the visitors, Warner has got out twice to Dilruwan Perera, the star for Sri Lanka in the second Test. Although, Warner has tried to get going, use his feet and dominate the spinners, thereby making most of his time at the crease. READ:Sri Lanka vs Australia: How spin and spirit combined to break 17-year jinx

Right-hander Joe Burns and left-hand bat Usman Khawaja have had a substandard outing. Burns has a tally of 34 runs in four innings, with a 29-run innings included. Khawaja has 55 runs in the same number of chances.

If Darren Lehmann’s words are to be believed then Shaun Marsh looks set to make way into the playing eleven and Burns or Khawaja might have to sit out. Marsh with his first appearance in the series would be looking to make his mark, but only if given the opportunity.

Another possibility could well be leaving out both Burns and Khawaj and bringing in Marsh and Moises Henriques. That will then push Steve Smith at No.3. Smith also hasn’t had the best of series’ so far. He has clearly not performed upto expectations and will have to contribute more, if Australia wish to make it 2-1.

Middle Order: The story has been same for all the batsmen. Their stay at the crease has been filled with struggle. It has been a horror display, which has brought out their deficiencies in limelight. The batsmen have had to walk back in despair and horror, each time they have walked in.

Adam Voges’ batting average has been among the least of his concerns probably keeping in mind how the series has shaped up for his side. He is perhaps one of the batsmen who has spent a lot of time at the crease. He was Rangana Herath’s first victim in the hat-trick at Galle. Australia will be relying on him to stitch partnerships which they have struggled to do in the last two matches.

At No.5, Mitchell Marsh has played a counter-attacking role in the lower-middle order. His contributions have been valuable because the top-order has often swayed away by the spin trio of Perera, Herath and Lakshan Sandakan. However, it has not made a difference to the outcome of the series.

Australia can bring in Henriques and see how he fits in the side, where he bats. But above or below Mitchell Marsh could be the place for him.

Lower Order and Bowling: With just 35 runs in four innings, Peter Nevill’s performance as a wicketkeeper-batsmen has been sub-standard. He has not looked to apply himself in the middle, probably has not even got time to apply himself. He was Herath’s second victim in the hat-trick. He will certainly have to up his game. Taking a cue from India’s Test wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha might help him.

Mitchell Starc has easily been Australia’s lone warrior. He has done exceptionally well, after coming back from injury. On tracks supporting spin bowlers, Starc has used reverse swing very well. He even earned appreciation from Angelo Mathews for his display. Australia will need him to deliver yet again at Colombo.

Australia’s spinners especially Nathan Lyon has not delivered as opposed to the Sri Lankan spin trio. Lyon has been criticised by Smith and Lehmann in the last month for his lacklustre performances. He will really have to step up and make most of the pitch at Colombo. The Sri Lankans have played him well though, rotating strike off him, playing sweeps, reverse sweeps and thereby keeping the scoreboard ticking. They have not let him settle. Jon Holland meanwhile is a newbie, but he will have to make sure he learns a few tricks and show some promise for the future.

Another change could be also made if Australia bring in Nathan Coulter-Nile in place of Josh Hazlewood, as the former has more pace and could possibly make a difference. Nonetheless, Australia will have to find an answer to the ‘spin-nightmare’ that has crippled them so far in the series, else it won’t take long for the demons of Pallekele and Galle to re-visit them.

Australia likely XI: David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith, Adam Voges, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jon Holland, Nathan Coulter-Nile

(Karan Dewana reporter with CricketCountry, loves following and playing sports. He is a Team India fan and loves winning. Follow him on his twitter handle @karan13dewan)