Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka
Australia captain Aaron Finch
- First T20 International against Australia at RPS today
- Australia pick three pacers for first Sri Lanka T20; David Warner and Steve Smith back in the side after missing Australia’s recent T20 matches
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka’s white ball captain Dasun Shanaka expressed confidence that his team under home conditions had a better chance of winning the three-match T20I series that begins today at the R. Premadasa Stadium against World Cup champions Australia.
In February this year Sri Lanka lost the five-match ODI series played in Australia 4-1, but Shanaka sees a change of fortunes in the new series.
“In their conditions we knew that it was going to be tough, here we have the advantage of our home conditions. I am very much confident that we’ve got a better chance of clinching the series,” said Shanaka at a media briefing held at Cinnamon Grand yesterday.
“If you take our side it is a balanced one. From the batting we have a good line up with players like Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and if you take our bowling, we have a world class line up. From the last T20 World Cup it is this line up that we have been playing with.”
When it was pointed out that the majority of matches lost by Sri Lanka was due to the batsmen not putting up decent totals on the board, Shanaka replied, “There wasn’t any shortcoming in the batting but most of it was due to COVID-19 where several of our players could not play, some of them were also injured. We could not perform as a team because we didn’t have our full side. If we had, we could have won the series against Australia and India, and if we had contributions from our batsmen, we could have even reached the semi-finals of the last T20 World Cup. Now our batting is in good shape, and we are well served in all three departments.”
Shanaka said they hope to play the white ball matches against Australia on pitches with less bounce, most probably to nullify the pace threat the visitors possess.
The new coaching staff said Shanaka, headed by Chris Silverwood (head coach) and Naveed Nawaz (assistant coach) has brought about a relaxed environment to the unit.
“They know the strengths of our players and the environment is very much relaxed. Each of the players know their roles and the support we get from them is of the highest level. They have given us the opportunity to play in a relaxed atmosphere. I have the confidence that the players will deliver.”
Australian captain Aaron Finch said that they were going with a team of similar structure to the T20 World Cup which they won in November last year. Australia named their eleven for today with Ashton Agar as the only frontline spinner. The rest of the squad reads: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson and Josh Hazlewood. Warner and Smith back in the side after missing Australia’s recent T20 matches.
Explaining the reasons for the selection of only one spinner Finch said: “Expecting a little spin more of a tacky spin not a dry surface by any stretch, that’s the reason for the one spinner. With the three all-rounders (Mitch) Marsh, (Marcus) Stoinis and (Glenn) Maxwell they can fill that fifth bowler role really well. As for Sri Lanka they’ve got a fantastic fast bowling attack in the past couple of years led by (Dushmantha) Chameera. We saw in Australia how effective their quicks can be.” Finch said because of the wet weather experienced over the last few days the outfield is going to be slower than what they are used to experiencing in these parts.
“It’s a bit more of a running game. The boundaries are going to be pushed slightly and I think it will all come down to just using our ability to hit the ball into gaps and running hard.”