TWO Sri Lankans were put in hospital by Mitchell Johnson's pace assault in Melbourne, and Michael Clarke says his quartet of fast bowlers will look to exploit the tourists' vulnerability to short balls and send Michael Hussey out a winner with a 3-0 series victory.
Baulking at the chance to trial Victorian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell in a dead rubber in Sydney, Clarke was convinced enough by a green SCG wicket to want four pacemen for the third Test, the first time Australia have done so at the ground in more than 50 years.
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Clarke confirms four-man pace battery
Captain Michael Clarke confirms Australia will take a four-man pace attack into 3rd Test.
The intimidation factor has done the trick so far this series. In a one-sided Boxing Day Test, the tourists were twice rolled cheaply. Kumar Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene were sent to the emergency room, and out of the series, with finger injuries.
Clarke defended the decision not to blood Maxwell in the lead-up to the four-Test tour of India starting next month when the off-spinning all-rounder is expected to feature.
''I'm purely focused on this Test, as the selectors are,'' he said. ''The chairman of selectors, coach [and] other selectors need to make sure they're thinking about the future, and I'm sure the Indian tour is at the front of their mind, but in regard to me as captain of the team and the boys playing the game, our focus is to win this Test and to have beaten Sri Lanka 3-0.''
Australia's pace trio in Melbourne - Johnson, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird - will be joined in Sydney by Mitchell Starc, welcomed back from a rotation-policy rest. Australia have used three quicks and a bowling all-rounder such as Shane Watson and Andrew McDonald in Sydney in recent years but this is the first time since 1954 - when a line-up against England included new-ball duo Ray Lindwall and Ron Archer, and left-armers Bill Johnston and Alan Davidson - that Australia will field four frontline seamers at the SCG. Nathan Lyon will handle spinning duties on his own, to be called upon more heavily on days four and five if the wicket turns and if the Test lasts.
Clarke denied Sri Lanka's batsmen would be bombarded with short balls, but Johnson is tipped to be given licence to attack as he did in Melbourne, while Bird, in his second Test, builds pressure at the other end. ''You can expect some good, fast bowling but it doesn't necessarily need to be short. It's about execution,'' Clarke said. ''We have plans for each individual player. Some of those plans involve short-pitched bowling but not necessarily for every player. It's about us bowling well to our plans, catching well and having some more success.''
Johnson, narrowly denied a century in a man-of-the-match performance at the MCG, will rise to No.7 in the batting order in a reshuffle forced by the absence of Shane Watson. Clarke has little doubt the bowler-heavy line-up will be enough to beat the Sri Lankans.
Clarke, who scored an unbeaten 329 against India in Sydney a year ago, will bat at No.4. Hussey and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade will also be bumped up a spot.
''He is a genuine top-order batsman, Matthew Wade,'' Clarke said. ''It's just that he keeps [wicket], so batting at six or seven gives him more time to recover. Matthew Wade batting at No.6 won't be a problem at all. He's been hitting the ball really well, hasn't made a big score for a while, so I wouldn't be surprised if you see him walk out and make a hundred in this Test.''
Clarke said Australia would not appoint a temporary vice-captain in Sydney but Hussey would take over if he were forced off, adding that the team was determined to win for the retiring batsman.
''It's something we've certainly spoken about,'' he said. ''Since I've been playing cricket for Australia, it's been a contributing factor to our success when guys retire. It's special to get a win in that last game for them, and I'm certain this Test will be no different in regards to Michael Hussey.''
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