Aussies, Sri Lanka set for tough Test battle

GALLE, August 29, 2011 (AFP) – Rival captains Michael Clarke and Tillakaratne Dilshan will look to lead their young teams from the front when Australia and Sri Lanka begin their three-Test series on Wednesday. Dilshan will miss the experience of prolific off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, Test cricket’s leading bowler with 800 wickets, who retired from the longer format a year ago.

Sri Lanka have not won a Test since Muralitharan bade goodbye, losing two and drawing six matches since July 2010.

The first Test at the Galle International Stadium marks the start of a new chapter for both teams looking to climb back in the Test rankings.

Former world number ones Australia have fallen to fifth place, while Sri Lanka, ranked second just a year ago, are fourth behind leaders England, South Africa and India.

With the top four teams due to contest the inaugural world Test championships in England in 2013, both Australia and Sri Lanka will hope to push their claims.

“I think it is going to take time for us to work our way back up the rankings,” said Clarke. “But I’m confident with the talent we have and our dedication, I can see us having some success.”

Clarke made a confidence-boosting sta