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Match Preview – Sri Lanka vs Australia, Sri Lanka in Australia 2021/22, 3rd T20I


Preview

Kusal Mendis is likely to return for visitors, with hosts forced to replace the concussed Steven Smith

Big picture

Australia are 2-0 up in the series but only by the skin of their teeth. Sri Lanka nearly pulled off the impossible in game two and exposed some of Australia’s weaknesses. If the visitors had more top-order support for Pathum Nissanka, the series would easily have been levelled.

Australia’s weak spots have been clear to see. Mitchell Starc conceded 44 in four overs in the first game, while his replacement Kane Richardson ended up giving 41 from another four in the second. The middle order has also been shaky with two collapses after strong starts in both matches. And with Steven Smith out of the series due to concussion, it does provide an opportunity for Australia to refresh their middle order.
Sri Lanka have bowled and caught well, but Josh Hazlewood has made a mess of their top order. Nissanka has been a shining light, but the rest of the top four have failed to fire a shot. And while Australia caught poorly in the second game with Glenn Maxwell dropping two catches, their outfielding has been a difference with two direct hit run-outs proving critical, while Sri Lanka have missed numerous run-out chances across the series.
They will also need to be a little quicker with their over-rate after being penalised in the last over of Australia’s innings on Sunday.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches; most recent first)

Sri Lanka LLWLL
Australia WWWW

In the spotlight

Aaron Finch is undoubtedly the best captain for Australia’s T20I side, but his form with the bat is starting to become a worry. In his last 14 T20Is, he has just one half-century and seven single-figure scores, including in four of his last five innings. It could have easily been five in five had he been given out lbw on 7 on Sunday night against Maheesh Theekshana. It was the first of two lbw reviews that he survived thanks to umpire’s call in his 20-ball 25.

Finch has averaged just 21 and has struck at 117 in his last 14 innings, which include the T20 World Cup and the West Indies tour. He has looked increasingly uncomfortable against Sri Lanka’s spinners. Finch would want some runs to put to bed any concerns over his place ahead of a World Cup title defence later in the year.

Charith Asalanka is on his first trip to Australia so it is hard to be too critical of his first two outings in this series. But Sri Lanka need him to adjust quickly if they are having any hope of winning the last three games. He showed he has big-time temperament and skill with some excellent performances in the T20 World Cup.

However, the extra pace and bounce in Australia has clearly caused him some concerns. Lots of deliveries from Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have hit high on his bat, including the one he chopped-on on Sunday night. He needs to find a way to not only rotate the strike better, but also to attack those balls off the back foot as Nissanka has been able to do.

Team news

Australia will likely make two changes with Smith needing to be replaced, and one of Hazlewood or Cummins set for a rest. Moises Henriques is the obvious replacement for Smith in the middle order, and would slot straight into his exact role. Starc was rested in the second T20I, although his recent T20I form hasn’t been great. Jhye Richardson is next cab off the rank as far as the quicks are concerned if they want to experiment with a different new-ball bowler.

Australia (possible): 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Ben McDermott, 3 Josh Inglis, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Kane Richardson, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazelwood

Kusal Mendis is out of isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 and looks set to come straight into the side, likely in place of Danushka Gunathilaka. The rest of the side is likely to remain the same, with Binura Fernando still in isolation after missing Sunday’s match.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Kusal Mendis, 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Avishka Fernando, 4 Charith Asalanka, 5 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Nuwan Thushara

Pitch and conditions

The Manuka Oval in Canberra has only hosted two T20Is, and scores have not been overly high; however, it has normally been an excellent batting track in the BBL. The weather is set to be all clear for the cricket to take place.

Stats and trivia

  • There have been 23 completed T20s at Manuka, and only eight times has the team batting first made less than 163. Both have come in the only two T20Is at the ground.
  • In Hazlewood’s last three T20Is – including the World Cup final last year – he has taken ten wickets at an average of 5, a strike rate of 7.2 and an economy rate of 4.16.
  • Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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