Sri Lanka’s quest to wipe out Australia in the five-match ODI series on the lines of the three Test matches that were convincingly won on the spin formula proved a total disaster that the home team was blind enough not to see.
The end game was that the Sri Lankan think-tanks who opted for the same dose of spin in the ODIs were unable to figure out that Australia’s switch in fortunes had more to do with their changed approach rather than with the usual team changes on paper.
On the same turning pitches that continued for the ODI series, Australia scored as many as 1,077 runs from 214.1 overs in the five matches while losing 34 of the 50 wickets compared to the 1,192 runs they scored from 420.4 overs in the Test series for the loss of 60 wickets.
In other words, Australia had found ways of countering the Sri Lankan spin bowling that they needed something like half the number of overs (214) compared to what they faced in the Test series (420) to score 1,077 runs in the five-match ODI series just short by 115 runs from the Test aggregate of 1,192 runs from 420 overs.
None will be able to explain the change, that the home team did not see, better than the Australian captain David Warner himself who eventually became the first from his country to score a hundred on Sri Lankan soil.
“It comes down to runs on the board and the pressure. We all talk about taking the game on and in these conditions you still have to look to score. When we’re at home, we always have that intent to score. In these conditions, you’re going to have to sweep, you need to use your feet. In the one-day game you get some release because you can’t have those catchers around the bat. That’s how you’re going to have to score in these conditions”, said Warner in his post-match Press briefing after Australia wrapped up the ODI series 4-1.
Australia lost only 34 of their 50 wickets they had in the ODI series, 26 of which were taken by no less than six Sri Lankan spinners who needed to bowl nearly seven overs (6.5) on average to capture each wicket.
In all, the Sri Lankan spinners bowled 169.1 overs from the 214.1 overs that were sent down.
In the Test series Sri Lankan spinners bowled an average of nearly seven overs for each of the 54 wickets from the 60 at stake.
If the statistics can tell a tale, the Sri Lankans were also caught on the wrong foot as Australia’s fast bowlers claimed 35 of the 48 wickets of the host team.
But equally or more embarrassing for the Sri Lankans would have been to see Australia’s three fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and John Hastings finishing in the top three bowling ranks with a haul of 31 wickets in the ODI series.
Moises Henriques and Josh Hazlewood accounted for the other four scalps that made up the 35 wickets taken by the fast bowlers.
Sri Lanka also made dubious selection history by deploying as many as 19 players who took part in the five ODI matches. For a country that has been averse to changes in the past, a total of 19 players being part of the equation simply hits the alarm bells.