Only way is up for Sri Lanka as Australia eye whitewash
Margins of 134 runs and nine wickets (with seven overs to spare) have made the opening two matches of this series horrendously one-sided.
David Warner has filled his boots while Aaron Finch, Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell, who has now sadly stepped away from the game for a period of time, profited from time in the middle. But Australia's middle order has barely needed to pad up. The bowling has been impressive although has hardly been tested by some insipid Sri Lanka batting.
So it's on to Melbourne for the final match, a place where Sri Lanka have enjoyed some success against Australia in this format with two wins from two matches. They should have strong support, so hopefully those things combined can help rouse them from their slumber, although it may not be enough to bridge the gap - or chasm - that appears to exist between the two teams.
Quite how much Australia are learning is a moot point, but they have certainly looked a slick outfit with the makings of a team that could be formidable on home soil in next year's T20 World Cup. It would be interesting to see how the likes of Ashton Turner, Alex Carey and Ashton Agar respond under some pressure with the bat, but can Sri Lanka get them in that position?
(last five completed matches)
Sri Lanka LLWWW
In the spotlight
Billy Stanlake made an excellent return to Australia colours with 2 for 23 on a Gabba pitch that provided him with plenty of bounce. It's not very often you see a short leg in place during a T20I, regardless of how much the opposition is struggling. The question for Australia is how they fit him in when all first-choice players are available - Kane Richardson would seem the most vulnerable.
It might sound harsh just a few weeks after a 3-0 series win in Pakistan, but the whole Sri Lanka team is under the scanner after these two matches. The highest individual score is 27 and they have managed three wickets in total, while conceding 10.63 runs per over. You would hope the only way is up from there.
Maxwell's withdrawal from the squad means that Ben McDermott is likely to bat at No. 4. The other decision to make is whether to rotate any of the pace bowlers.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Steven Smith, 4 Ben McDermott, 5 Ashton Turner, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Ashton Agar, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Billy Stanlake
Sri Lanka made three changes in the previous match so may well see this as a chance for more mixing and matching given they have been so heavily beaten both times. Kusal Mendis has made scores of 0 and 1 opening the batting.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Kusal Mendis, 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Aviska Fernando, 4 Kusal Perera (wk), 5 Niroshan Dickwella, 6 Dasun Shanaka, 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Isuru Udana, 9 Lakshan Sandakan, 10 Lasith Malinga (capt), 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Pitch and conditions
The MCG has come under significant scrutiny for its pitches over the last couple of years and there has been extensive work done to try and revilatise them. A T20I will probably not give a full picture of how things will play, but it should be an early indication. Weather-wise, it's been a hot few days in Melbourne and it's expected to touch the low-30s again on Friday.
Stats and Trivia
- Warner needs 63 runs to have the most in a bilateral T20I series - the record is currently held by Colin Munro with 223.
- Sri Lanka's two previous T20Is at the MCG were a two-run victory in 2013 and a last-ball five-wicket win in 2017.
- Australia have one previous 3-0 win a T20I series, against England in 2013-14.