Sri Lanka ready for new-look NSW Blues

Wednesday, 27 October 2010 01:59 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

AAP: Sri Lanka will take on a new-look NSW outfit in their Twenty20 cricket match on Wednesday at Blacktown Olympic Park in western Sydney.

It shapes as an important fixture for the tourists as it’s the final warm-up before their upcoming battles with Australia in a three-match one-day series.

The stadium at Blacktown has been used for a couple of Sydney Swans pre-season games, but this week’s match represents the first time NSW have played cricket at the venue. Advertisement: Story continues below NSW will be without 13 Australian representatives due to international duties, injuries and the decision to rest a handful of veterans. However such is the depth of the NSW program, they will still field four internationals as well as a handful of the most promising players in the nation. Five members of the Australian T20 squad, Michael Clarke, David Warner, Brad Haddin, Steve Smith and Shane Watson, are unavailable for the clash.

However, a sixth member, spin bowling all-rounder Stephen O’Keefe will be on deck and will lead the side.

Newly selected Australian one-day representative Mitchell Starc is also out of action, while injuries have claimed another young international paceman Josh Hazlewood and veteran quick Nathan Bracken.

The Blues will also have to make do without Test openers Simon Katich and Phil Jaques, and fast bowlers Doug Bollinger and Stuart Clark.

Despite the catalogue of missing stars, NSW still have some strong artillery to fire at Sri Lanka in O’Keefe, Brett Lee, opening batsman Phil Hughes and all-rounder Moises Henriques. Then there’s exciting young talents Usman Khawaja and Nic Maddinson, all-rounder Sean Abbott, quick Trent Copeland and debutant Tim Cruickshank, who have all been selected for the Twenty20 fixture. Sri Lanka’s preparations were interrupted by adverse weather last Sunday when their limited overs game against the Blues at the SCG was abandoned without a ball bowled.

The tourists’ only previous game was against Queensland in Brisbane, where they won a one-day match by 112 runs. Captain and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara starred in that game by scoring 110 off 95 balls while fast medium bowler Dilhara Fernando took 4-41. Veteran spinner Muttiah Muralidaran didn’t play in that game, but the 39-year-old record Test wicket-taker could get a run on Wednesday.

Following Friday’s clash in Perth, Sri Lanka plays Australia in limited overs internationals in Melbourne (November 3), Sydney (November 5) and Brisbane (November 7).

Ponting to return for Sri Lanka one-dayers

SYDNEY (AFP) – Captain Ricky Ponting will return to action against Sri Lanka next week as Australia enter final preparations for the Ashes series against England, officials said Tuesday.

Ponting and opening batsman Shane Watson were both named in the 15-man squad for three one-day internationals next week after being rested for the 2-0 limited-overs defeat in India.

“The squad sees the return of Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson after missing the Indian one-day series,” said selectors’ chairman Andrew Hilditch.

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and fast bowler Peter Siddle were also included as they continue their recovery from injury. Australia face Sri Lanka on November 3, 5 and 7.

Ponting faced calls for his resignation after returning from the Test series defeat to India which pushed Australia down to fifth in the rankings -- one spot below arch-rivals England.