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Sri Lanka have claimed themselves to be better international travellers outside the subcontinent in recent times. There has been justification for this claim, too, with Test wins in both England and New Zealand during 2006. However, sadly, there remains a severe travel warning for Australian tours: Sri Lanka have progressed significantly during the past two years, but they remain a long way off the standard required to take on the world champions on their turf.

Sri Lanka travelled with arguably the strongest bowling unit in their 26-year history, an attack with great variety, which had the potential to unsettle Australia's batsmen. However, to do so they all had to be at the top of their games, like England's seam attack during the epic Ashes contest in 2005. They weren¹t.

Dilhara Fernando blew hot and cold, mixing good, penetrative spells with wayward ones; Chaminda Vaas lacked pace and swing; Farveez Maharoof, the best of the seamers, was accurate and unfortunate, but ultimately wicketless too; Lasith Malinga burned brightly at the start of the second Test but was also too wayward and ill disciplined.

The only bowler to perform well was Muttiah Muralitharan. However, his task was made harder by the runs that leaked away easily at the other end, the fact that he was bowling in the first innings in both games, and the fact that his colleagues appeared incapable of catching anything other than the simplest of dollies. During the first day at the Gabba no less than three catches were dropped off his bowling, including Phil Jaques and Mike Hussey, both of who capitalised with centuries.

The fielding standards achieved under Trevor Penney's guidance in 2006 and 2007 have dropped alarmingly. This is in part due to the fact that some of the best fielders - Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga - were not selected due to the returns of Marvan Atapattu and Thilan Samaraweera. Like Australia missed Andrew Symonds in the field, Sri Lanka lost their edge without Dilshan.

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