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Australia target 3-0 sweep, Sri Lanka eye batting revival

Big Picture

The tour has moved to the hill country of Kandy for the final T20I and opening games of the ODI series. Australia wrapped up their first trophy of the trip in barely 24 hours with back-to-back wins in Colombo, although the second one came in an untidy chase that was a reminder of previous collapses against spin on the subcontinent.

But their bowling, led by Josh Hazlewood, has been very impressive and Jhye Richardson’s return seamlessly covered the absence of Mitchell Starc who will continue to be sidelined by his badly cut finger.
Sri Lanka have to find a way to put more runs on the board to give their attack a reasonable total to bowl at. As they showed in the second match, and on the tour of Australia earlier this year, they can cause plenty of uneasy moments but it’s rare that totals of 120 will be enough even when Wanindu Hasaranga can spin a web.

Recent form

(last five matches, most recent first)

Sri Lanka LLLLL
Australia WWWLW

In the spotlight

Dasun Shanaka had appeared to make significant strides in his middle-order batting role during the series against India in February where, although Sri Lanka lost, he made 47 off 19 balls and 74 off 38 in the last two matches. But it’s not gone so well against Australia with a second-ball duck then 14 off 17 deliveries in the second outing. He has also stopped using himself with the ball.

The last time Australia played a T20I in Pallekele, Glenn Maxwell hit the small matter of 145 off 65 balls – the only two occasions he has opened in T20Is came on that tour and he followed the century with 66 in Colombo. He had the chance to take his side to victory two days ago, but picking out long-off in Hasaranga’s last over heaped pressure on the chase especially when Ashton Agar then fell first ball. Although he was Player of the Series against Sri Lanka in February it has been a little while since he has cut loose with full effect for Australia.

Team news

The home side has been unchanged so far and may give the batting line-up one more chance, but if they wanted to freshen things up the uncapped Nuwanidu Fernando would be an option. Chamika Karunaratne wasn’t used with the ball on Wednesday so they may also consider the balance of the attack. Kasun Rajitha (left hip) and Matheesha Pathirana (right elbow) have both been ruled out with injury but were unlikely to play. Asitha Fernando and Pramod Madushan have been called in as cover.

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

Australia could go with an unchanged team as Starc continues to be sidelined with injury

Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 David Warner, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Steven Smith, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Jhye Richardson, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Pitch and conditions

This is the first T20I played in Pallekele since before the pandemic but history would suggest a chance of a reasonably high-scoring affair with the ground among the fastest scoring in the world.

  • Charith Asalanka needs five runs for 500 in T20Is; Dushmantha Chameera needs two wickets to reach 50
  • Hazlewood’s 12 wickets at 10.25 against Sri Lanka make them his most successful opponent in T20Is and he concedes just 5.12 per over.

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