Australia begin a tour of Sri Lanka on Tuesday when the two sides meet in the first of what will be three T20 matches in Colombo. Often these T20 internationals can lack significance but with a T20 World Cup a few months away that isn’t the case here.
These two met at the last T20 World Cup and have played out a T20 series in Australia since then so the pair will know each other fairly well. It will be interesting to see if the change in venue and conditions will bring about a different result.
In the early stages of that T20 World Cup, Sri Lanka looked like a very good side and there were certainly times in Australia where they looked like they could certainly cause problems when they return to that part of the world later in the year for the next staging of that tournament. They now begin the build-up to that competition and they’ll do so under a new coach so it will be interesting to see if they can continue that improvement or if it only came about because of the quality coaching of Mickey Arthur.
One thing which will boost the Sri Lankans heading into this series is a number of their players have just come off the back of decent campaigns in the Indian Premier League so they should be up to speed. There are a couple of other members of their squad who have the quality to compete in that tournament too. You sense that Sri Lanka will be fine with the ball in these conditions so the outcome from their point of view could revolve around how they fare with the bat.
The world champions Australia have the ideal chance to show just why they will be defending their crown in a few months. They won that competition in slightly fortunate fashion in the way they came from the clouds to win their semi-final but they certainly backed that up with their series win over Sri Lanka earlier in the year. Although they have since lost in Pakistan, it shouldn’t be forgotten that they made wholesale changes to their team for that match.
Just like their opponents here, Australia have a number of players who have been active in the IPL but with the exception of Josh Hazlewood you would be hard pushed to suggest that any of them had a particularly appealing series. Australia will be tested with the bat in these conditions and while their bowlers won’t naturally be suited to the wickets in this part of the world, they have enough skills to set the match up for their batters.
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Sri Lanka are expected to load their side with all-rounders with the likes of Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne and Ramesh Mendis all likely to be included in the starting XI along with the captain Dusan Shanaka.
Australia will be without Adam Zampa and Pat Cummins for this series as they have been excluded from the squad. Josh Inglis will see his run of matches come to an end as the likes of Dave Warner and Steve Smith are included in a strong XI.
This hasn’t been the highest scoring ground for a while and with a fair bit of rain in the build up to the game potentially leading to a tacky wicket I’m not sure this one will be that high scoring either. The run line for this one is 321.5 and that line hasn’t been covered here in any of the six matches played here since 2018. Admittedly they were all last year when Covid meant that matches were all on the same ground so the wickets tired but they would have been fresh to begin with and still we didn’t get a cover.
As well as the pitch potentially being a little tacky with the weather, the outfield is likely to be quite heavy so the ball isn’t likely to fly to the boundary as quickly as it might otherwise have done. You’d have to say that these are good conditions for the bowlers, particularly the seam bowlers so that is likely to keep Australia in the game for longer. I still think the toss will be crucial here so I’m not going to bet on the match outcome but I’m happy to be on under 321.5 runs.
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