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Australian Cricket: Three things we learnt from the ODI series

Australia brought some respectability to the ODI series against Sri Lanka by winning the fifth and final match but it is clear there is plenty for them to work on ahead of the World Cup next year.

The Aussies, who are priced at 7/2 to win the World Cup, went into the final match trailing 3-1 after slumping to three defeats on the bounce and it was important to stop the rot in Colombo on Friday night.

They did just that when battling to a four-wicket win to restore some pride, but speaking after the match skipper Aaron Finch admitted there is a lot of work to be done.

Sri Lanka were bowled out for just 160 runs in 43.1 overs but Australia got off to a poor start and looked in big trouble at 3-19.

Finch was out for a duck, David Warner managed just 10 and Josh Inglis failed to shine on his return to the side with just five runs.

Thankfully for Australia Alex Carey helped to rescue the situation, finishing 45 not out off 65 deliveries. Marnus Labuschagne also chipped in with 31 runs, while Mitch March made 24.
It was enough to get Australia over the line but was far from convincing.

Now we move on to a two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, but before we get get to that, what did we learn from the ODI series?

It was the first time since 2010 that Australia have lost a ODI series to Sri Lanka, and credit has to go to the home side. But still Australia will have learnt a lot from the five matches.

Australia need to start building batting partnerships

There were a couple of stand-out performances from the Australian batsmen throughout the series.

David Warner smashed 99 runs in the fourth match, while Glenn Maxwell hit an unbeaten 80 runs off just 51 balls in the opening match.

Carey impressed in Friday night’s win but unfortunately for Australia they have been individual performances and not too many partnerships. Not substantial ones anyway.

On too many occasions the batsmen have got themselves in but have struggled to go on and build the big scores and big partnerships.

Sri Lanka managed to do that during their three wins and it proved to be the difference.

There is still plenty of room for improvement

The series was always going to be a huge test for Australia, who have tended to struggle against spin on the subcontinent.

And they struggled again as Sri Lanka, as expected, hit them with a barrage of spin bowling.

On the plus side the conditions were extreme and it is unlikely Australia will have to face spin bowling like it at the World Cup in India. But even so there is still lots to improve on.

But the good news is they are aware of it.

"We understand where our shortcomings come. That's no secret that we tend to struggle a little bit more in these conditions when they are turning big," Finch told reporters after the game.

There were positives to take as they eventually got past the Sri Lanka total. Carey and Cameron Green had to really dig deep when faced by some quality Sr Lankan spin bowling. More of that will be needed going forward.

Mitchell Swepson may not be ready for the Test series?

Swepson’s lack of match action throughout the series is baffling to say the least. He featured in the second ODI and although he registered disappointing figures of 1-58 from his 10 overs he deserved another crack.

Finch revealed that Swepson was due to play on Friday night only to be ruled out of the game due to a stomach bug. Still the fact that he did not feature in the third and fourth matches is a surprise.

Australia opted to go with Matthew Kuhnemann instead and now there is a big question mark over whether Swepson will play in the Test series.

Swepson also struggled on the recent tour of Pakistan when taking just two wickets but has the backing of Nathan Lyon, who is keen to bowl with him again.

"I do feel a bit for Sweppo. It's pretty hard when you get one crack (in the ODI side) and then you miss the next," Lyon said. "I was really happy and pleased with our partnership that we bowled together in Pakistan.”
Now it remains to be seen if the selectors will agree with him.

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