x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Marsh keen to cement his spot for Australia

The debutant will at No 3 spot in place of Ponting while Sri Lanka will choose between Mendis and Randiv as spinner for the second Test.

Ajantha Mendis was ignored in the first Test and it backfired for the hosts on a dusty track. Ishara Kodikara / AFP
Ajantha Mendis was ignored in the first Test and it backfired for the hosts on a dusty track. Ishara Kodikara / AFP

Shaun Marsh is relishing the prospect of his Test debut as Australia look to wrap up a series victory over Sri Lanka with victory in the second Test starting tomorrow    .

The tourists seized the upper hand on a surface described as a dust bowl in Galle, winning the first Test by 125 runs, but the early indications are that the Pallekele International Stadium pitch looks to be a more traditional wicket.

Australia have made just the one forced change to the starting XI that got the job done in the series opener.

Shaun Marsh, the son of the former Australia vice-captain Geoff, will make his Test debut as a replacement for Ricky Ponting, who returned home for the birth of his second child.

The 28 year old comes in as a straight swap for the former captain at No 3. "It's an exciting few days coming up. It's a dream to play Test cricket. Test cricket's the pinnacle," the Western Australia batsman said.

Marsh becomes the fifth debutant to feature during Michael Clarke's captaincy career and, if recent history is any guide, he should handle Test cricket with aplomb.

The two most recent debutants - Nathan Lyon and Trent Copeland - did just that in Galle.

Lyon became just the second Australian bowler to take a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket. The victim - Sri Lanka's best batsman, Kumar Sangakkara.

The 23 year old showed it was no fluke by going on to take five for 34 from 15 overs in the first innings, and added another in the second to finish with match figures of six for 107.

Copeland's initial contribution came with the bat, hitting the first ball he faced at Test level for a boundary. The first ball he bowled also went for four, but his second earned him a maiden Test scalp - Tillakaratne Dilshan. While the Sri Lanka captain proved Copeland's lone scalp, the paceman bowled with the discipline he is renowned for, conceding just 44 runs from 28 overs

Mystery surrounds the Sri Lanka line-up, and whether the spinner Ajantha Mendis will play in preference to Suraj Randiv.

The decision to leave Mendis out in Galle backfired. Rangana Herath claimed seven wickets, but Randiv took just two and went wicketless in the second innings.