Victory marred by Watson's injury


Mitchell Johnson runs out Dimuth Karunaratne for one run yesterday. Johnson bowled and batted superbly. Picture: REUTERS

Mitchell Johnson runs out Dimuth Karunaratne for one run yesterday. Johnson bowled and batted superbly. Picture: REUTERS

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

Star all-rounder 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 all-rounder who bowls off-spin.

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.

But then the selectors might leave out Maxwell and retain Bird, playing four quicks plus Lyon's off-spin.

Clarke declared he was confident of being fit to play in his home Test at the SCG.

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 yesterday morning for 460 in reply to Sri Lanka's 156, then smashed through the visitors' brittle batting line-up for 103.

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

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

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

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

He 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," said Clarke. AAP


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