Staring at a string of losses, weighed down by history and missing key personnel, Sri Lanka arrive in Australia giving their best impression of lambs to the slaughter.

On Saturday, the Lions crossed the Tasman, reflecting on a disastrous tour of New Zealand, offering few glimmers of hope they'd push Australia in a two-Test Series.

The tour ended on an appropriate note, capitulating in a run chase to lose the one-off Twenty20 International by 35 runs on Friday night at Auckland's Eden Park to the Kiwis.

Exasperated T20 skipper Lasith Malinga says his team are still learning to win games when they get into good positions, an issue that had plagued them in all formats in New Zealand.

Hamstrung by a brittle batting line-up and a blunt seam attack, they were swept 3-0 by the Black Caps in the One-Day International Series and went down 1-0 in the two-Test Series before Christmas.

It would have been 2-0 but rain and a dogged second-innings partnership between centurions Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews forced a draw in the First Test in Wellington.

They were smashed in the second by 423 runs, hard on the heels of a miserable home-series loss to England.

Rubbing salt in the wounds, former skipper Mathews - their best batsman in the New Zealand Tests - will miss the Australian leg with injury.

Mathews led Sri Lanka to their historic 3-0 home-Test series drubbing of Australia when the teams last met in mid-2016.

That triumph had also followed a bleak period for the Sri Lankans, but it is hard to see them going close to a repeat in Australia given they won't have the same spin-friendly conditions and no longer boast the accomplished services of retired tweaker Rangana Herath.

Sri Lanka have lost all six series in Australia and have never won a Test, having notched 11 losses and two draws.

A far-stronger batting division visited six years ago, boasting world class trio Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, yet they were whitewashed 3-0, failing to handle Australia's pace and bounce.

Mendis was a shining light throughout 2018, ranking second behind Virat Kohli for calendar runs (1,023).

Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera was similarly ranked for wickets (50) but he struggled noticeably in Kiwi conditions.

The tourists face a strong Cricket Australia XI from Thursday afternoon in Hobart in a pink ball day-night tour match to prepare for the day-night Test at the Gabba before Canberra's Manuka Oval hosts a maiden Test.

WHAT: Cricket Australia XI v Sri Lanka - Pink Ball Tour Match

WHEN: THIS Thursday 17 - Saturday 19 January 2019

WHERE: Blundstone Arena, Hobart

FREE ENTRY - ALL SESSIONS - ALL DAYS

DAILY MATCH SCHEDULE

Gates Open: 1.30pm
Coin Toss: 1.30pm
Session One: 2-4pm
Tea Break: 4-4.20pm
Session Two: 4.20-6.20pm
Dinner Break: 6.20-7pm
Session Three: 7-9pm

Speaking on the CA XI, National Selector Trevor Hohns said:

“The CA XI squad is critical to our pathway system and continuing to harness identified talent at the highest possible level. The players in this squad are of interest to the National Selection Panel, as we look ahead to the World Cup and Ashes campaigns in 2019.”

Australia XI Squad

Joe Burns (c) - Queensland
Kurtis Patterson (vc) – New South Wales
Scott Boland – Victoria
Jake Doran (wk) - Tasmania
Jon Holland – Victoria
Marnus Labuschagne - Queensland
Michael Neser - Queensland
Will Pucovski - Victoria
Jason Sangha – New South Wales
Matt Renshaw - Queensland
Chris Tremain - Victoria
Charlie Wakim - Tasmania

Sri Lanka Squad

Dinesh Chandimal
Dimuth Karunarathn
Kusal Janith Perera
Dananjaya De Silva
Dushmantha Chameera
Kusal Mendis
Suranga Lakmal
Lahiru Kumara
Kasun Rajitha
Lakshan Sandaken
Dilruwan Perera
Niroshan Dickwella
Roshane Silva
Lahiru Thirimanna
Nuwan Pradeep
Sadeera Samarawickrama