x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Michael Clarke has 'come to win three Tests'

Tourists lead the series 1-0, but their captain is wary as Australia will be without Ricky Ponting, on paternity leave, ahead of second game that starts on Wednesday.

KANDY, Sri Lanka // Michael Clarke will look to put his first Test series as Australia's captain beyond Sri Lanka's reach when the second match starts in Pallekele on Wednesday.

The tourists won the first Test on a controversial dusty wicket in Galle by 125 runs last week to take the lead in the three-match series, Australia's first in Sri Lanka since 2004.

The Sri Lanka board faces sanctions from the International Cricket Council, which said on Monday that Chris Broad, the match referee, had expressed his "concerns over the quality of the pitch" in his report.

Ricky Ponting, Clarke's predecessor, also began his captaincy stint in Sri Lanka with a 3-0 sweep seven years ago - going on to become Test cricket's most successful captain with 48 victories. Australia's emphatic win at Galle suggests a similar whitewash is a distinct possibility, but Clarke was not taking anything for granted.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," he said. "We didn't come here to win one Test match, we've come to win three Test matches. We have to be at our best always."

Clarke has reason to be wary of what lies ahead, especially in the second Test, which has proved difficult for the team to win in recent times. Australia have lost five second Tests in their last 10 series, winning four and drawing one.

Clarke himself has not made a Test century in 21 innings, but his 23 and 60 at Galle indicated a big knock could be around the corner for the right-hander.

Australia return to Pallekele for the second time on the current tour, having lost two Twenty20 matches against Sri Lanka before winning the first one-day international by seven wickets.

The Pallekele International Stadium, near the hill city of Kandy, has hosted just one Test, against the West Indies in December, which was rained off without an innings being completed.

The wicket is expected to play better than in Galle, although it mattered little to the tourists that the surface in the first Test was tailor-made for spin.

Australia's seamers, led by Ryan Harris with five for 62, picked up nine of the 10 Sri Lanka second-innings wickets.

Nathan Lyon, the debutant off-spinner, grabbed five for 34, including a wicket with his first delivery, in the first innings.

The tourists have named debutant Shaun Marsh in the XI, the only change from the side that won in Galle.

Marsh replaces Ponting, who returned home after the first Test to await the birth of his second child.

"I just look forward to the challenge," Marsh, 28, said. "It's a dream to play Test cricket because Test cricket is the pinnacle."

The left-hander, son of the former Australian opener Geoff Marsh, is not a novice, having played in 35 one-day internationals and five Twenty20 games.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, may bring back Ajantha Mendis, the unorthodox spinner, after he was surprisingly excluded for the first Test. Mendis could replace the off-spinner Suraj Randiv, who claimed two for 76 in the first innings at Galle, but was wicketless in the second.