Destabilised Sri Lanka aim to close series with a win
MELBOURNE, Thursday: After defeats in the first two games, Sri Lanka will play to avoid a series sweep, in the third and final T20I at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.
Sri Lanka’s batting failed for the second time in the series, this time while setting a target, in Brisbane. Their bowling, too, lacked intensity, as it took only 13 overs for the hosts to chase down 118 runs, with nine wickets remaining. The lone wicket they managed came off a loosener down the leg side.
With their present form, winning seems an uphill task. Can the young side, led by an experienced campaigner in Lasith Malinga, rise from the defeats and end the tour on a winning note?
Australia on the other hand, have the opportunity to register their second clean sweep in a three-match T20I series. Mitchell Starc’s absence in Brisbane hardly made any difference, as Billy Stanlake grabbed his opportunity with both hands, finishing with 2/23 from four overs. Having already won the series, Aaron Finch might well be tempted to test the bench strength by bringing in one of Sean Abbott and Ben McDermott.
Change in tactics didn’t work for Malinga, who opted to bat first after winning the toss, as Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals. Three of their top four batsmen got starts, but none could make it big, as they were eventually bundled out for 117 in 19 overs. Australia lost Finch early in the chase, but normal service was quickly restored, as both David Warner and Steve Smith scored fifties to guide the home side to a comfortable win.
“We are focused on winning, we are fifth in the world, which is a reflection on how we have played in the last couple of years. We need to get that going in the right direction, but also at the same time, maybe have a look at some different combinations,” said Australian captain Aaron Finch.
Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga reflecting on his team’s defeat at Brisbane said, “It’s a tough side, and I think with this kind of batting line-up, our score wasn’t enough. We didn’t get the score we expected and the batsmen will have to be more responsible. The only positive is preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup, as we will be playing in similar conditions and we will have to test ourselves in such situations. We want to win the next game, as this is a young side and it will give them confidence.”