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Big comedown in Colombo for Khawaja, Burns

NZN 13/08/2016 Will Knight

For Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns, it's been flood to famine and the two-Test run-drought cost them dearly.

Just six months ago, both batsmen had their chests puffed out after making big hundreds in New Zealand to cap off a golden summer in which Australia won six of eight Tests.

The batting order was set.

Australia had just secured the No.1 Test ranking.

Another Ashes failure in England had been forgotten and there was energy to a rejuvenated team that had lost Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Chris Rogers and Ryan Harris to retirement.

Khawaja was in the form of his life - he'd racked up 713 runs in eight innings in Australasia.

Burns cashed in in Christchurch, making 170 and 65 in the second-Test win over the Black Caps in February.

What a difference a sub-continental tour makes.

The pair were dropped for the third Test against Sri Lanka starting on Saturday in Colombo after a barren run in Kandy and Galle.

Shaun Marsh was called in as expected, but no one predicted allrounder Moises Henriques would also get the nod.

The selectors took the relatively drastic action of a double dumping given the horror show in Galle when spinners Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera embarrassed the tourists.

Their teammates also struggled for solutions on the tricky batting strip, but the pair were the ones that looked most lost.

Khawaja left his first ball from Perera in the second innings and was bowled; Burns didn't get through the first over of either innings.

While they feasted on fast bowling in Australia and New Zealand, Khawaja and Burns couldn't cope in Sri Lanka.

Dealing with Kiwi off-spinner Mark Craig and West Indies left-arm finger spinner Jomel Warrican at home on bouncy and more consistent pitches doesn't make you ready to deal with Herath, Perera and Lakshan Sandakan on dry, turning wickets.

But that's also the beauty and intrigue of Test cricket - you've got to deal with varying conditions all over the world.

Australia coach Darren Lehmann said action needed to be taken after the deflating losses.

"We haven't had the results we would have liked here in Sri Lanka," he said.

"We've picked a squad we think can play in these conditions.

"Shaun and Mo (Henriques) are very good players of spin bowling.

"So they come into the side at the expense of Joe who's unlucky and Uz who's unlucky."

Lehmann insists the axings don't necessarily mean they won't be back in the side for the first home Test of the Australian summer against South Africa in Perth in early November.

"It's a tough call on those two younger guys but it's only for this Test match," said Lehmann.

"We'll have a look going forward at home."

The axings certainly won't help the duo's chances of being chosen in Australia's touring party for the four-Test series in India early next year.

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