AUS v SL 1st T20I Preview: Depleted Australia energetic Sri Lanka look to take first lead
Published - Feb 16, 2017 10:51 pm | Updated - Feb 16, 2017 11:23 pm
The two Australian teams are on different assignments of two different nations- the Test team is on its tour in India while the T20 side is set to host the Sri Lankans. While the Test team will have their seasoned players taking on the Indians on one end, a fresh side with many new names will take field in the T20 series against Sri Lanka as a way to groom the many uncapped players. While Steve Smith leads in his visit in Asia, Aaron Finch will captain against a touring Asian team.
The first T20I match will see Sri Lanka entering with some changes with inclusion of some players that were not chosen for the South African tour. The major difference will be the absence of their skipper Angelo Mathews, who is out with a hamstring injury. Upul Tharanga will have the responsibility of leading the team. Sri Lanka will enter the series with a confident mindset considering they emerged victorious against South Africa in the previous series as they clinched it 2-1.
There is a lot to look forward to as far as the Asian team is concerned since Slinga Malinga is set to make a comeback after almost a year. The wait for his return has some added excitement as he stunned one and all with a wicket-taking fireball bowled in his very first over during the practice match at Canberra against the Prime Minister’s XI.
The fact that there will be many new faces in the Australian Playing XI is expected to make it a very important game for them too. Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner and Michael Klinger will be given the opportunity of making an impact in their first International series.
The wait for Klinger and Malinga
Klinger is set to make his debut at the age of 36, but age is no bar in cricket anymore. He has had an impressive outing at the first-class level for a long time. With 22,163 runs under his belt, Michael Klinger has the most number of List A and T20 runs prior to International debut. The spotlight will be on him among the Aussies and there will be hope for him to impress even at the International format.
While Australia anticipates an interesting debut, Sri Lanka awaits a much-needed comeback. Sri Lanka’s death bowling was one of their weakest links in their matches so far. With the return of the best bowler, they will be looking at strengthening that aspect. Though a little rusty and perhaps a little less threatening now, Australia will know he possesses some danger after the practice match apart from his reputation of being the second leading wicket taker in the T20 format.
Klinger along with his Scorcher’s teammate Jhye Richardson are expected to make their debuts in this match. Klinger’s credentials make him an expected selection. But, Richardson’s inclusion in the squad was a little surprising even though he had impressed in the BBL and his Man of the Match worthy performance in the final. Australia have various options for its opening slot with Flinch, Klinger, Ben Dunk and Tim Paine doing that in the BBL.
Apart from Malinga’s much-awaited return, Upul Tharanga’s shaky captaincy will be tested one more time. Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardan, Dilshan Munaweera and Chamara Kapugedara have been included after their absence in the previous series. It will be interesting to see how they perform this time with the roles they are assigned.
Aaron Finch (C), Michael Klinger, Ben Dunk, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Tim Paine (wk), Ashton Turner, James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye.
Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Upul Tharanga (C), Dilshan Munaweera, Asela Gunaratne, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Seekkugge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekara, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga, Vikum Sanjaya.
1. With 22163 runs to his name Michael Klinger will make his international debut with most runs across the three formats.
2. Lasith Malinga took his 300th T20 wicket in the warm-up match against Australia Prime Minister’s XI.
3. Australia’s last T20 win at home was in November 2014 against South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground
4. Sri Lanka has won all three matches against Australia in Australia.
5. Tharanga will be the third man to captain Sri Lanka’s T20 side in 2017, after Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal.
6. Finch has scored 974 runs and needs 26 runs to reach 1000 in T20i. He will be the second-fastest to the milestone behind Virat Kohli if he does that.