T20I series preview: Australia v Sri Lanka

The Australian squad for this series reads like a best of the Big Bash League with Australia unable to call on any Test regulars for this series with their long format team already in India.

While we are not short on any talking points in the hosts squad the visitors have one player who has been making a headline grabbing return to international cricket, Lasith Malinga.

Malinga produced a ripper of an in-swinging yorker in his first over back in Sri Lanka colours against the Prime Minister’s XI and has created ripples of excitement around a team who have had little to celebrate in recent times.

Sri Lanka beat an inexperienced Proteas team 2-1 in their T20I series last month and face a similarly under strength Australia side but where the wickets in South Africa were bizarrely suited to the visitors in that series they are unlikely to get any favours from Aussie groundsmen.

Michael Klinger is set to make his long-awaited and thoroughly deserved Australia debut and while the game will be his first at international level he is a player with vast experience in the game having made his domestic debut back in the 1998/99 season.

Australia are not short on T20 quality despite the absence of their Test team and can call on Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Moises Henriques at the top of the order.

In the bowling stakes they have the handy James Faulkner and Pat Cummins who will be supported by the enormously talented and just plain enormous Billy Stanlake as well as one of the bowlers of the BBL this season Jhye Richardson.

Australia have sent nearly all their quality spinners to India but they have left behind one of immense quality in the shorter formats in the shape of Adam Zampa.

One of the few positives to come out of Sri Lanka’s visit to South Africa has been the emergence of Niroshan Dickwella as a potent top order player while stand in skipper Upul Tharanga has proved to be in top form towards the end of the trip scoring the first hundred for Sri Lanka on the tour.

This is a format that Sri Lanka can prove dangerous in with the shorter innings negating to some extent the Sri Lankan propensity to collapse in a heap when placed under pressure for prolonged periods.

Key men

With bat in hand Australia will look to Finch to blast away from the top of the order and lead by example as he skippers the side in Steve Smith’s absence.

Faulkner’s experience with the ball could prove critical as will his knack of taking wickets at vital moments, Sri Lanka are unlikely to take their foot off the gas unless the wickets tumble and in that respect the wily Tasmanian will be key.

Tharanga will likely open the batting with Dickwella and it will be up to him to assist the youngster wherever possible while also ensuring he manages the innings and contributes runs at the top.

Malinga can add some much needed penetration to the Sri Lanka bowling and he possesses one of the game’s finest yorkers as he showed in the warm up game.

Squads

T20 International Australia squad: Aaron Finch (C) Melbourne Renegades (VIC), Patrick Cummins Sydney Thunder (NSW), Ben Dunk Adelaide Strikers (QLD),James Faulkner Melbourne Stars (TAS), Travis Head Adelaide Strikers (SA), Moises Henriques Sydney Sixers (NSW), Michael Klinger Perth Scorchers (WA), Tim Paine Hobart Hurricanes (TAS), Jhye Richardson Perth Scorchers (WA), Billy Stanlake Adelaide Strikers (QLD), Ashton Turner Perth Scorchers (WA), Andrew Tye Perth Scorchers (WA) Adam Zampa Melbourne Stars (SA)

Sri Lanka squad: Upul Tharanga (capt), Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Asela Gunaratna, Dilshan Munaweera, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Sachith Pathirana, Chamara Kapugedara, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekara, Isuru Udana, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Vikum Sanjaya.

Fixtures

1st T20I 17 February 2017 Melbourne 08:40 GMT
2nd T20I 19 February 2017 Geelong 08:20 GMT
3rd T20I 22 February 2017 Adelaide 08:50 GMT