Australia begin life without two-time World Cup winning former captain Ricky Ponting in the ODI format, aiming to consolidate their position at the top of the points table when they take on a spirited Sri Lanka in their tri-series league clash in Hobart on Friday.
Adopting a perform or perish policy, Australia dropped an out-of-form Ponting from the squad despite his massive reputation and the record of being the country's top run-getter in the one-day format with 13,704 runs -- second only to Sachin Tendulkar in the all-time list.
The Australians sit atop the table with 14 points after winning three out of their five matches. The Lankans are three points adrift after a couple of wins, equal number of losses and a tie from their five games so far. Head to head, both the teams have beaten each other once in the competition and with India struggling to stay afloat, they could be the eventual finalists as well.
On the face of it, Australia can be termed favourites because of the home advantage but given how the Sri Lankans have adapted and exploited the conditions to their advantage is also hard to ignore.
The islanders have been unexpectedly tough and have not gone without a fight even in matches they have lost.
Against India in their previous match, the Lankan batting order gave a good account of itself and their bowlers were bang on target when it came to extracting the best out of a friendly track. The result was a comprehensive win which has given them a real chance of making the finals.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene has led a sprightly group well ably backed by a line-up which may not boast of too many heavyweights but has shown the spunk to punch above its weight.