AUSTRALIA opens its campaign in Sri Lanka with Twenty20 matches today and on Monday which could set the tone for the rest of the tour.
Seasoned Australian fast bowler Brett Lee said the Twenty20 games were the right way to start the seven-week tour, which also features five one-day internationals and three Tests.
“I think it builds the hype,” Lee, 34, said. “If you were to have it towards the end after a Test series, it probably would not work as well. “It just flows beautifully into the longer form of the game.”
Australia, once the master, will look to rebuild its battered reputation after falling to fifth place in the Test rankings, one behind Sri Lanka. The Australians, winners of four one-day World Cups, were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the last edition played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh this year.
Australia’s Twenty20 captain Cameron White will return home after Monday’s match as he is not part of either the one-day or Test squad, which will be led by Michael Clarke.
Sri Lanka, led by hard-hitting opener Tillakaratne Dilshan, will miss the recently retired off-spinner Muttiah Muralidaran and sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who is injured. But all-rounder Angelo Mathews, the new vice-captain, was hopeful the bowling attack would look sharp even without the spearheads.
“Lasith and Murali are exceptional people and I think that while we have got talent, nobody can replace them,” he said. “But there are good youngsters coming up.”
In an attempt to familiarise itself with Kandy’s Pallekele stadium under floodlights, Sri Lanka trained on Thursday evening after Australia’s morning session. But Australian batsman Aaron Finch, who says he’s 100 per cent recovered from an ankle injury sustained on Tuesday, doesn’t think that night-time session will count for much come tonight.
“We haven’t seen the lights in action but the guys play in that many different locations around the world now, I think you can adapt to it pretty quickly,” he said. “Being on the subcontinent, most guys have played in the IPL, we’re travelling and playing day-after-day, so most guys have experienced different grounds and I think you get accustomed to it quite quickly.”
After proving his fitness by completing Thursday’s session at the venue, Finch said if the practice wickets were any guide, the ground may well play into the hands of Australia’s quicks, Mitchell Johnson, John Hastings and youngster James Pattinson.
“The wickets we trained on were fantastic. Hopefully, all going well on Saturday, the wicket will be the same as what we trained on,” he said. “There was a little bit of pace and bounce in it.” (www.theaustralian.com)