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Aussies thump Sri Lanka at MCG
By Greg Buckle
19:25 AEST Fri Dec 28 2012

Australia's joy at crushing Sri Lanka in the second Test in Melbourne on Friday was short-lived after vice-captain Shane Watson was ruled out of the Sydney Test with his latest calf injury.

Star allrounder Watson has been replaced in a 13-man squad for the third and final Test from January 3 at the SCG by Glenn Maxwell, an uncapped Victorian allrounder who bowls offspin.

Maxwell appears to be in a two-horse race with paceman Jackson Bird for a spot in the final eleven in Sydney. Tasmania's Bird took 2-32 and 2-29 on debut in Melbourne and didn't put a foot wrong.

Queensland batsman Usman Khawaja has been named on standby for skipper Michael Clarke for the second successive Test after Clarke hit 106 in Melbourne despite suffering a hamstring injury in the first Test win in Hobart.

Australia are hoping the calf injury to Watson - who will miss a third out of a possible six Tests this summer - is only minor.

However after thumping Sri Lanka by an innings and 201 runs on day three of the Melbourne Test to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series, the selection of Maxwell would give Australia a chance to have an early look at how playing Maxwell alongside fellow spinner Nathan Lyon might work with a four-Test tour of India starting in February 2013.

Clarke declared he was confident of being fit to play in his home Test at the SCG and the skipper also said left-arm quick Mitchell Starc was certain to return after being controversially rested this week.

Man-of-the-match Mitchell Johnson, in just his second Test of 2012, made himself impossible to drop after taking 4-63 and 2-16 in Melbourne. Johnson also scored an unbeaten 92 as Australia were bowled out on Friday morning for 460 in reply to Sri Lanka's 156 then smashed through the tourists' brittle batting line-up for 103.

The fact that Johnson fractured wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene's right thumb in the first innings and fractured Kumar Sangakkara's finger in the second dig, forcing the master batsman to retire hurt on 27, showed the 31-year-old was back to his best.

Prasanna and tailender Chanaka Welegedara (hamstring) didn't bat in Sri Lanka's second innings on Friday and the whole show was over in 24.2 overs at 2.11pm (AEDT), roughly the mid-point of the scheduled five-day game.

Clarke was enthusiastic about the prospect of 24-year-old Maxwell making his Test debut.

"He's the full package. He's got that x-factor about him," Clarke said.

Clarke batted for more than four hours in Australia's innings, lifting his tally for 2012 to a national record of 1595 at an average of 106.33.

"I really need to assess over the next 48 hours how I pull up. It's more precaution than anything else," he said.

Australia might choose to leave out Maxwell and retain Bird, playing four quicks plus Lyon's offspin.

"If it looks like it has got a bit of grass on it, we've got the extra quick," Clarke said.

"I would imagine that Wadey (wicketkeeper Matthew Wade) would bat at six and either Maxwell or Mitch (regular No.8 Mitchell Johnson) would bat at seven."

Clarke would move up one spot to No.4 in Watson's absence, the skipper added.

"I am trying to do as good a job as I possibly can with bat and ball but my batting is being affected in certain ways and obviously I can't stay on the park consistently so that's where we are," Watson told the Nine Network.

"It (calf) started to play up a bit and unfortunately it just didn't hold up throughout this Test match. I'm certainly doing some thinking at the moment about what my prospects are going forward."


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