Hobart pitch beckons

Opener Phil Hughes has been recalled for Hobart.
Opener Phil Hughes has been recalled for Hobart.

SRI Lanka batting great Kumar Sangakkara says the prospect of a seaming Hobart pitch on Friday will bring the touring team's pace attack into play as a threat to Australia's shaky top-order batting.

The retirement of ex-skipper Ricky Ponting following the third and final Test against South Africa in Perth earlier this month has prompted selectors to recall opener Phil Hughes for Hobart, where the 24-year-old is likely to bat at No.3.

Australia's prolific middle- order pair Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke could be set to face another stiff challenge against the new ball in the first Test against Mahela Jayawardene's side.

That's unless Hughes, No.4 Shane Watson and openers Ed Cowan and David Warner can click into form in the same match.

Both openers made centuries in the recent three-Test series against South Africa, but not in the same match.

The average score for teams batting first in Shield matches this season in Hobart is under 100.

"There's been a bit of nibble about," Sangakkara told a media conference yesterday.

"Wickets like this make fast bowlers really enthusiastic to go and play.

"Also it elevates guys who don't have that much pace but it also makes them really good on sporting tracks.

"If it stays the same I think our fast bowlers too will have a really good chance against the Aussie batsmen."

Sangakkara said Nuwan Kulasekara would be suited by the swing and seam movement expected to be on offer in Hobart.

"We don't have the out-and- out pace that Aussies might have but we have the skill so let's wait and see how the wicket turns out," Sangakkara said.

"It's really about making sure we're prepared for them and that we challenge them at every stage to see whether they are vulnerable or not."

While Sri Lanka boasts a strong batting line-up, its big performer with the ball in 2012 has been spinner Rangana Herath, who has snared 55 wickets at an impressive average of 20.94 this year.

Ex-skipper Sangakkara said the potential was there for the tourists to knock over Australia's top order, however he praised the dangerous Warner and the solid technique of Cowan.

"But it's Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey who really solidify that middle order," Sangakkara said.

"If we can get into that middle order quickly with the new ball it will be interesting but getting there is the key."

Hughes was axed after the Hobart Test against New Zealand a year ago but said the venue held no fears for him.


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