It’s a test that many expect Australia to win, and only the tonic needed to take before the World Cup and ashes.
However, Sri Lanka, who ranks sixth behind its opponents, will be confident in meeting India’s efforts and achieving its first series victory on Australian soil.
The well-known names of Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakarra are long gone, but Sri Lanka has a new wave of players who have developed and prosper. Here are five players to see throughout the series.
It was a tad over six years that Dimuth Karunaratne arrived in Australia for the first time, surrounded by some of the best in his nation.
In only his second test, Karunaratne opened beside the daring Tillakaratne Dilshan in Hobart. Sangakkara and Jayawardene, Sri Lanka’s biggest couple, came first and Thilan Samaraweera fifth.
Kurunaratne made only 140 runs at 23.32 in the entire series, but completed his maiden voyage to Australia at 85 at the SCG.
Almost four years later, the left-handed struggles with free-goalkeeper continued against Australia, although Sri Lanka came on home soil to a series of clean opponents.
The 30-year-old, however, returns to Australia due to his most successful year so far.
In a year in which bat-opening fighters fought around the world, Karunaratne had an average of 46.43 in 2018. He was also only the fourth Sri Lanka to carry his bat through an innings after scoring 158 against South Africa in a team of 287 teams in Galle.
After Angelo Mathews was knocked out for a thigh injury, Karunaratne now holds the key to Sri Lanka’s successor.
Karunaratne is able to play everywhere on the ground. The ability to occupy the fold and play the bat in one of Australia’s fastest goals will be crucial.
Two and a half years ago, Kusal Mendis registered his first test century, a series that was delayed by 176 in the third innings of Pallekele. The opponents were Australia and the Sri Lankans would win the series 3-0. Mendis was only 21 years old.
After the resignation of Sangakkara and Jayawardene, it looked like a Sri Lankan beatmaster had appeared. Unfortunately, the island state proved to be a false morning with the elegant right-hander, which was 34.64 in the calendar year and 33.45 in the next.
Thankful for Sri Lanka’s cricket, Mendi returned around the corner last year, enjoying his most fertile 12 months to date. Mendis, who was only 23, was the second-highest scorer of Test Cricket in 2018 (1023 by 46.50) and completed for the first time 1000 runs in a calendar year.
On the way he scored three centuries and passed four times 50 more. His highest score of the year was against Bangladesh (196), but his best performance and the most relevant for the upcoming series was found in New Zealand last month.
Under swaying conditions in Wellington, the compact but aggressive drummer Sri Lanka rescued with a 141 fight in an unbeaten 274 race with the currently injured Angelo Mathews.
Mendis did not beat Cricket Australia XI last week after being hit to the right of a Jake Doran shot. Luckily for Sri Lanka, he was freed from injury. That’s good news for the show, but not the Australian bowlers.
With a simple and repeatable action, Dilruwan Perera’s greatest weapon is his accuracy rather than his greatest weapon. Last year he finished second in the test wickets due to this simple and repeatable action.
The off-spinner had 50 wickets at 29.32 last year; one more than the Australian Nathan Lyon (49 on 34.02) and two less than the South African speed driver Kagiso Rabada (52 on 20.07). It was a career-best year for the Tweaker, and it was also a good time for the modern Rangana Herath to retire.
Dig a little deeper and Perera’s numbers leave something to be desired. The 36-year-old brought home 38 goals at 19:34, but only 12 at 60.91. These numbers are also consistent with his overall career, with 100 wickets at 28.48 in Sri Lanka and 51 at 41.18.
The pressure will be firmly put on Perera to turn those statistics against Australia. Otherwise, maybe he could just run the drinks for the left arm luncher Lakshan Sandakan.
Nevertheless, the Australians will shy away from the sneaky tweaker, who for the last time, when these two teams met, got around 24.80 15 wickets.
He’s not quite Rishabh Pant, but be prepared for another cocky batsman in Niroshan Dickwella.
Only a few weeks after Pant – the left-handed janitor from India, whose carefree handling of thugs and voice behind the stumps spellbound the Australian crowd – left is another left-hander who plays in almost the same style, just his first role in Test Below ,
The 25-year-old from Kandy is not a freshman in the international game. With his 27 tests he is more experienced than Pant and the Australian captain Tim Paine.
Dickwella arrives in Australia behind a modest series in New Zealand. He started the series well enough, did not make 80 out of the first innings of the two-test series, but missed it in his next three strokes.
However, with an average of 30.55 and a hit rate of 70.01, Dickwella is not frivolous. Dickwella is a strong square of the wicket, often sweeping and attacking the opponent. He does not stay behind the wicket, so expect a lot of stump microphone use.
Dinesh Chandimal has been well known on the world stage since making his 50-year debut against a South African attack on Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis in Durban in 2011.
He made his impressive debut with a well-honed 24 and 62, who did not miss out on SCG a year later in his first test against Australia.
Since then, Chandimal has been expected to be Sri Lanka’s next big test. He did not completely fulfill this promise.
3744 runs at 43.53 are still a record to be proud of, but the Sri Lankan captain has the opportunity to make a statement for Down Under. He already has a century against Australia after making 132 in the third Test in 2016.
Easy to see on the eye, the right-hander plays the ball late, angular moves effortlessly and is aggressive against slow bowling.