Mitchell Starc took 59 wickets in 28 T20 matches last year. Source: AFP/foxsports.com.au
Australia’s selectors will be hoping that the injection of some fresh faces can spark a turnaround in fortunes in the 1st Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka after the 50 over squad could only draw the 5 match ODI series against the tourists.
Young allrounder James Faulkner and Ben Laughlin – who was the leading wicket taker in the recently completed Big Bash League - could make their international debuts at ANZ Stadium, while Queensland paceman Ben Cutting could also play his first T20 match for the national side. While there are several new faces in the bowling ranks, two short format specialists have been recalled to bolster the batting. Shaun Marsh scored 412 runs from nine innings in the Big Bash and is likely to bat at first drop in his first appearance for Australia in almost twelve months, while Adam Voges has been recalled to provide experience in the middle order after an absence of almost three and a half years.
Aaron Finch and David Warner will form a dangerous opening partnership at the top of the order and there will be plenty of attention on the pair. After starring in the Big Bash and Ryobi Cup this season, Finch was called into the squad for the rested Warner in the first two ODI matches but could manage only 20 runs. In three T20 matches for his country, the stocky right hander has been dismissed just one in scoring 104 runs and was Man of the Match against England two years ago. Although he boasted an impressive record in the short format, Warner will be looking for a big score after failing to reach double figures in his past four Twenty20 matches.
Sri Lanka boasts arguably the best T20 record of any international side, having reached two of the past three World Twenty20 finals. Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan are dangerous at the top of the order, while the visitors also boast dangerous allrounders like Angelo Matthews – who top scored in the 5th ODI in Hobart – and Thisara Perera. There are unlikely to be any drastic changes to the tourist’s side that competed so well in the One Day Internationals, but they may try to find a way to squeeze teenager spinner Akila Dananjaya into the XI, given that spinners tasted success on the slow ANZ Stadium wicket during the Big Bash.
Sri Lanka has a great record against Australia in Twenty20 Internationals, having won four of the six matches between the sides, including the past three. George Bailey’s men go into this fixture having lost two games in a row to bow out of last year’s World Twenty20 at the semi-final stage, while Sri Lanka had won three in a row before going down to the West Indies in the decider at that tournament.
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