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Sri Lanka turn to spin in bid to inflict more pain on Australia

Sri Lanka's captain Dimuth Karunaratne (left) can call on Lasith Embuldeniya (right) as part of a likely four-prong spin attack when the first Test starts against Australia in Galle on Wednesday. ©AFP

Galle (Sri Lanka) (AFP) - Sri Lanka are looking to inflict more pain on injury-hit Australia when the first match of a two-Test series starts on what looks certain to be a turning wicket in Galle on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka secured a stunning 3-2 victory in the one-day international series last week and the hosts will counting on a bowling attack packed with spinners to give them the edge in the Tests.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne will lead a side bolstered by the addition of Jeffrey Vandersay to their spin brigade of Lasith Embuldeniya, Praveen Jayawickrama and Ramesh Mendis.

The hosts bowled more than 40 overs of spin in the fourth ODI to clinch the 50-over series, giving a glimpse of what the Australian batsmen can expect to face in the longer format.

Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia in a three-Test series on their last visit in 2016, but Karunaratne warned that the visitors will have done their homework this time.

"They will also be prepared for our conditions for sure," Karunaratne was quoted as saying by website cricbuzz. 

"It would definitely be not easy and we have to work hard."

Sri Lanka's Test cricketers are on a high after a 1-0 series win in Bangladesh last month and victory over Australia would bring some welcome cheer to the island nation which is suffering a dire economic crisis.

Many Sri Lankan supporters at the final ODI in Colombo last week wore Australia's yellow shirts and held up banners thanking the tourists for visiting the country.

Turn from day one

Australia's premier spinner Nathan Lyon, who took 16 wickets in comparison to home hero Rangana Herath's 28 in 2016, said he expected the wicket to turn from day one.

Lyon is likely to be partnered by leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson.

Middle-order batsman Travis Head is battling to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the ODIs, meaning a possible recall for explosive batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who can bowl off-spin.

Maxwell has so often been a star of the white ball side but he has played just seven Tests since his debut in 2013, with the last in Bangladesh almost five years ago.  

Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar also remains doubtful, but Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith are both expected to be passed fit for the opener.

Led by Pat Cummins, Australia will take confidence into Galle, as they look to avenge that 2016 drubbing, having won a three-Test series in Pakistan 1-0 earlier this year. 

"We proved to ourselves in Pakistan that we had the game plan to do well in the subcontinent," opening batsman Usman Khawaja said Sunday.

"This is one of the better teams playing spin that I've been a part of.I think we've learned from past mistakes, and the young guys coming in are learning from the older guys' mistakes."

The left-handed, Islamabad-born, Khawaja topped the series batting chart in Pakistan with 496 runs including two centuries.

Sri Lanka (from): Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Jeffrey Vandersay

Australia (from): Pat Cummins (capt), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

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