Australia have left no stones unturned in their preparation as they chase their first Test series win in over a year, captain Tim Paine said on Thursday confirming an unchanged playing XI for the second and final Test against Sri Lanka. Since their 4-0 Ashes victory at home in 2017-18, Australia have been beaten away by South Africa and Pakistan and lost their first ever home series to India earlier this month.
Their comprehensive win against Sri Lanka in Brisbane was only their second Test victory of the summer and the hosts are determined not to take their foot off the pedal in the first ever Test at the Manuka Oval.
“We have spoken a little bit just about our attitude and the way we turn up firstly for our two training sessions here and then tomorrow morning,” Paine told reporters. “We had a great win in Perth against India and we turned up pretty poorly and really flat in Melbourne and started that Test match pretty ordinarily. It’s just been making sure our attitude to this Test is spot on and we are leaving nothing to chance.”
The picturesque ground in Australia’s capital has hosted nine one-day internationals in the past and is known to be a high-scoring ground. Paine said that would mean a few more overs to bowl for his leg-spinning all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne.
“I think it will be a good batting track. It looks like there’s bit of grass on it which hopefully means there will be a bit of pace,” Paine said. “Traditionally here it’s been a very, very good batting wicket. It will probably favour batting quite heavily.”
Australian batsmen have gone without a Test hundred in the summer and the Canberra Test will be their last opportunity to tick that box off before they embark on their tour of England for the Ashes series later this year.
“In every team, scoring hundreds becomes a mental challenge more than it is technical, a lot of the times,” Paine said. “The longer you go without it, the more you want it, the harder you try and sometimes the further away you can get from it. We are working really hard on it from a mental and technical aspect. Sometimes you just need that one sort of breakthrough.”
Another change in fortune Paine would be desperate to achieve is with the coin toss. The 34-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has won toss only once in his eight Tests in charge.
“I can guarantee I will try something different tomorrow,” Paine said amid a roll of laughter at his news conference. “I might go left hand, I do need to try something. Can’t keep doing the same thing and get the same result. Need to change.”
Australia: Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson, Tim Paine (captain-wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson