Host plans perfect farewell for Dilshan as Australia seeks to sign off with a flourish
Australia alleviated some of the pain of suffering a whitewash against Sri Lanka in the three Tests with a 4-1 victory in the One-Day International series which ended on Sunday. Come Tuesday (September 6), David Warner’s men will welcome the chance to carry their good limited-overs showing into the first of two Twenty20 Internationals that will mark the end of the challenging tour of Sri Lanka.
The two matches - in Pallekele and Colombo - will also be the last international outings for Tillakaratne Dilshan, who announced his retirement from international cricket after Sri Lanka's only win in the ODI series on August 24.
With Angelo Mathews, the captain, sidelined by a calf injury sustained in the fourth ODI, Dinesh Chandimal will be in charge, hoping to shake off the ODI series loss.
"We'll learn from these mistakes and come back stronger," Chandimal said. "One series you are going to win, another series you are going to lose."
The host, which is currently placed at No. 8 in the ICC T20I rankings with 96 points, has struggled in the format in the recent past, but will be desperate to do well to give Dilshan a fitting farewell.
Sri Lanka has made wholesale changes to the side with Kasun Rajitha, the seamer, being drafted in alongside Thisara Perera and Milinda Siriwardana, the all-rounders. Chamara Kapugedara, the experienced batsman, has also been recalled as has been Sachithra Senanayake, the off-spinner. Out go Danushka Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella, the batsmen, and Ramith Rambukwella, the all-rounder, apart from the injured duo of Mathews and Nuwan Pradeep.
Meanwhile, Australia will be confident ahead of the two matches, though it too has a long list of injuries to deal with. Shaun Marsh is out with a broken finger and Nathan Coulter-Nile has been ruled out with a back injury. Aaron Finch, who will perform 12th-man duties in the T20Is, broke his index finger during the fifth and final ODI in Pallekele while Chris Lynn dislocated his shoulder during a practice session.
With Steve Smith, its regular captain, and Mitchell Marsh rested, the visitor has asked Matthew Wade, the wicketkeeper-batsman, to stay on for the two T20Is, while ODI specialist George Bailey will be available for selection for the first match.
Bailey was the highest run-getter in the ODI series with 270 runs at 67.50 while Mitchell Starc, John Hastings and Adam Zampa impressed with the ball in the five matches. Wade and Bailey have countered the sluggish Sri Lankan pitches with aplomb in the ODIs.
"In these conditions, you're going to have to sweep, you need to use your feet, you're going to have to watch the ball hard on to the bat where you can't leave the ball because one is going to skid on," Warner said on tackling Sri Lankan pitches.
The second T20I will be played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Friday.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Chamara Kapugedara, Milinda Siriwardana, Kusal Mendis, Seekkuge Prasanna, Sachithra Senanayake, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera, Sachith Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka.
Australia: David Warner (capt), George Bailey, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa.