Australia round their tour of Sri Lanka off with a T20 to be played at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
After such rousing performance in the three Tests against Australia, things have turned a bit pear-shaped for the Sri Lankans in the limited overs leg of their series against Warner and co.
A 3-2 defeat in the ODI leg of the tour was immediately followed by an incredible 85-run win for Australia in the first of two T20 Internationals. Can the Asians finish the series on a high or will Australia continue to build momentum ahead of their series against South Africa? Let’s take a look:
Australia vs Sri Lanka | Friday 9 September | R. Premadasa Stadium | Colombo | 14:30
To Win Match
Sri Lanka 19/10 | Tie 35/1 | Australia 42/100
Every now and then a team gets absolutely pummelled, not because of any of their shortcomings; but because a player on the opposite team has an absolute blinder. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Glenn Maxwell played the innings of his life, smashing his way to an unbeaten 65-ball 145 in which he helped himself 23 boundaries – 14 fours and 9 sixes – to kill the game off before the Sri Lankans even came out to bat.
Even with their bowlers nursing stiff necks from watching the ball repeatedly travel into the Pallekele night sky and faced with a target of 264 for victory; the Asians still had a proper go. Although they fell 85-runs short of their, their 178-9 was full of fight and tenacity; even if they knew they’d never get close to the Aussie’s total.
Looking ahead to the next match, one can expect the R. Premadasa Stadium to be filled to the rafters as the Pallekele locals try and get one last glimpse of Tillakaratne Dilshan turning out in Sri Lankan colours.
The 39-year-old has enjoyed a stellar career that’s spanned almost sixteen years in which he’s managed to accumulate 17670 international runs in all three formats of the game. There’s very little doubt in my mind that he’ll be looking to turn it on one last time for his adoring fans.
He’ll need support from other senior statesmen within the squad, though. Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis form the core of the batting line-up along with Dilshan – they’ll need to fire if they’re to set a competitive total or chase down whatever Australia’s immensely strong batting line-up posts.
I can’t really say too much about the Sri Lankans’ bowling in the first T20. While they weren’t at their best, it didn’t help that Maxwell and co were depositing the ball into the stands at will. If anything, the defeat could give the likes of Sachithra Senanayake and Suranga Lakmal the kick they need to deliver the match-winning performances that they’re capable of.
Darren Lehman will be keen to see his side put in another huge performance against the Sri Lankans before they embark on their ODI tour of South Africa later this month. Most pleasing for the Aussie mentor would have been the incredible return to form of Glenn Maxwell following his promotion to the top of the order.
The Melbourne native – having been dropped from the team after indifferent World Cup and IPL campaigns showed why he’s affectionately known as the Big Show. He attacked from the word go and batted through the innings helping himself to an incredible 145 from just 65 balls.
What impressed me most about Maxwell’s innings was the maturity of the knock, which I feel he's been lacking in recent years. He played his trademark switch-hit sparingly, opting instead to play more orthodox shots, and it paid off. Hopefully, he learns a thing or two from his last performance and adopts a more orthodox approach to his batting going forward. I fell if he does so, he’ll once again become one of the best limited overs batsmen on the planet.
He was ably supported by the likes of David Warner and Usman Khawaja early on before Travis Head came in during the 13th over and got in on the act too, grabbing an 18-ball 45 as the Aussies finished on a massive 263-3 after their allotted 20 overs.
Also impressive was the opening bowling combination of Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland who both finished with figures of 3-26 after their four allotted overs. There were also wickets for James Faulkner, Moses Henriques and Adam Zampa as the Sri Lankans looked to get as close to the Aussie total as possible.
Verdict: Sri Lanka 19/10
While they were comfortably beaten last time out, the hosts did show enough with the bat to suggest that they could well get one over the Australians. At just under 2/1, they offer magnificent value that shouldn’t be ignored. Like the value bet below, small stake on Sri Lanka to come out on top at 19/10.
Value Bet: Tillakaratne Dilshan to top score for Sri Lanka at 7/2
It’s the last time that Sri Lanka’s little maestro will turn out for the national side and he’d love nothing more than to turn on the style with a big score. Small stake on at 7/2.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.