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Australia must find form as Ashes loom

Australia will be without captain Ricky Ponting when they try to break a five-game losing streak today.


Ponting will attend his grandmother’s funeral in Launceston, making him unavailable for the one dayer against Sri Lanka at the MCG.

Australia have lost their last five matches in the three forms of the game, most recently a seven-wicket thrashing by Sri Lanka in their Twenty20 match on Sunday.

Michael Clarke will lead Australia in Ponting’s absence, while Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralidaran will most likely play his last game at the MCG before retirement.

Heat on Australia

Sri Lanka will keep the heat on an Australia, captain Kumar Sangakkara says.

The wicketkeeper-batsman warned that Sri Lanka must keep applying the pressure to the world’s number one-ranked one-day team.

“A player of Ricky’s calibre not being in the side, he’s a huge blow to anyone,” Sangakkara told reporters.

“He’s one of the best batsmen probably in the last two decades or so.

“I’m not sure how it will affect the Australians, but for us again it’s a case of thinking more about us and trying to keep a focus on the processes that we try and do setting the tone for the innings and getting our combinations right.”

Although Sri Lanka are using the Australian tour as a build-up to next year’s World Cup on the sub-continent, Sangakkara said his focus would be on trying to beat the home side.

“The World Cup is there, everyone knows when it is and this is a build-up for it,” he said.

“But for us, this tour is very important, so we take this series in that context, as a series on its own.

“Of course, the combinations we play will probably allow us to make some decisions about certain players, it will also give players opportunities to grab those elusive places in a final World Cup squad.

“But we have to play this, we have to play the West Indies and then think about the World Cup.”

Sangakkara confirmed Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan would open the batting.

Time to end the losing streak

Skipper Ricky Ponting says it’s time to end Australia’s losing streak.

The Australians are in a form slump ahead of the opening Brisbane Ashes Test against England on November 25, having lost their last five international games.

The time for talking was over for the Australians, Ponting said yesterday.

“There’s no sugar-coating anything, we know we have some work to do, and we haven’t played one-day cricket for a little while,” he said.

“There’s no doubt it’s always a different feel around the change-rooms when you are winning games of cricket and we have to start that off pretty soon, hopefully that’s tomorrow.”

Ponting backs Hussey

Tasmanian spinner Xavier Doherty is expected to make his one-day international debut.

Ponting also backed struggling senior batsman Mike Hussey to regain form for the Ashes and backed him to stay in the one-day side.

Hussey is high on a series of problems for Australia ahead of the first Ashes Test after making a golden duck and three in Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield match at Adelaide Oval over the weekend.

“Unfortunately for him he’s missed out twice, but I’ve had a good chat to him today, he’s very clear in his own mind about what he needs to do and he feels he’s on the right track,” Ponting said.

“His preparation has been good for every game that he’s played — class players like him generally find a way to get it done — and I’m sure that over the next few one-day games against Sri Lanka, you’ll see him score some runs.”

Squads (12th men to be named):

Australia – Michael Clarke (captain), Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Clint McKay, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

Sri Lanka – Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Kapugedera, Lasith Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Chamara Silva, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Angelo Mathews, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dammika Prasad, Upul Tharanga.

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