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2nd Test preview: Steve Smith banking on reverse swing on Galle turner

August 03, 2016 17:22 IST

IMAGE: Coach Darren Lehmann and Steve Smith talk during an Australian nets session. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

Galle has built a reputation as a spinners' paradise but Australia captain Steve Smith hopes there will be substantial reverse swing at the venue as his top-ranked team bid for a series-levelling win against Sri Lanka in the second test.

Sri Lanka inflicted a 106-run defeat on the touring side at Pallekele last week in the opening match of the three-test series with the spinners taking 18 out of 20 Australian wickets to fall.

The hosts' three-pronged spin attack will be brimming with confidence on a dry surface at Galle for the match that starts on Thursday, and will hope to take an unassailable lead against Australia, ranked number one in tests by the International Cricket Council.

South Africa pacemen Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn claimed 16 wickets between them as they bowled South Africa to a 153-run victory in Galle in 2014.

IMAGE: Mitchell Starc looks on during the Australian nets session. Photograph: Paul Kane/Getty Images.

Australia will hope their fast bowling duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood can do something similar. Debutant left-arm spinner Jon Holland will replace the injured Steve O'Keefe and will partner off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

"Looks pretty dry, I daresay it's going to take some spin, which at the same time there's quite a big breeze so I think it will drift a lot for the spinners," Smith told reporters.

"Talking to Allan Donald (bowling consultant) who was here with the South African team in that game, he said the ball reversed quite significantly from both ends.

"Morkel had it going away from the right handers and Steyn had it going into the right handers, so we've got Starc who can do and Hazlewood can do and Mitchell Marsh bowls good reverse swing as well, so we've got the bases covered."

Angelo Mathews' side are reeling from injuries to their fast bowlers with Dhammika Prasad and Dushmantha Chameera ruled out of the three-match series, while Suranga Lakmal was also absent from the opening test at Pallekele due to an ankle complaint.

IMAGE: Sri Lanka's left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, centre, celebrates with team mates after taking a wicket. Photograph: Cricket Sri Lanka/Twitter.

They suffered yet another injury setback with seamer Nuwan Pradeep injuring his hamstring during practice.

Mathews said the team will wait till Thursday for Pradeep to get fit, failing which uncapped left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando could be drafted in.

The Sri Lanka captain was aware that the Australians will devise a way to neutralise their spinners, especially left-armer Rangana Herath.

"You can't write the Australians off against Herath," he said. "They came up with a different strategy in the second innings, like using the crease a lot, and sweeping him a little bit. We have got to be cautious.

"They didn't get runs, but they are a very attacking top order and the guys who didn't get runs in Pallekele, we have to be cautious of.

"It's a tough place to play spin here. It will turn more than in Pallekele I reckon, but we still need to bowl in the right areas to take wickets."

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