Australia vs Sri Lanka: Second T20 Preview

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Australia will look to bounce back in the second T20 International after suffering defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka on Friday. 

Sri Lanka continued what they started in the recent Tweny20 International series against South Africa, while Australia were predictably ring rusty - and under-resourced - in the series opener.

The second clash, though, should level the variables - and a few unknown factors - somewhat, at a venue that has never hosted international cricket.

 Australia v Sri Lanka | Sunday, 19 February | Kardinia Park, Geelong | 09:20

To Win Match
Australia 42/100 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 39/20

The promise delivered by Aaron Finch and Michael Klinger at the top of the order in the series opener in Melbourne didn't amount to enough - and the absence of David Warner and Usman Khawaja was evident.

Cobbling together a handful of average all-rounders and a couple of inexperienced batsmen around Finch and Klinger didn't work as a once-off - and probably doesn't have the stamina for a second round. A change must be made, presumably by the introduction of Ben Dunk for Sunday's showdown.

Defeat at the MCG, too, showed that T20I matches can't really be won without a second genuine spinner. Adam Zampa put in a sterling effort, but lacked proper support - and Travis Head, while not a specialist, will have to turn his arm over in Geelong.

Billy Stanlake's tumultuous arrival on the international scene is proving a worry. Like Joe Mennie, stringbean Stanlake is struggling to make the step up from state cricket to the biggest stage. Being tall and extracting extra bounce and carry means nothing when not accurate enough.

While Australia's biggest focus, admittedly, remains on the upcoming Test series against India, stand-in coaches Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting - with their players - need to find a semblance of form in T20 cricket.

A reiterated breeding ground for bigger, better things to come, it's not going to keep its shine and appeal if defeat against opposition several positions inferior in the rankings ensues this week.

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Sri Lanka
Gone are the days of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillkaratne Dilshan and, while Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunaratne and the young ilk haven't entirely stepped up to the proverbial plate in their monumental predecessors' absences yet, the signs are definitely there.

Friday's chase at the MCG spoke volumes of Sri Lanka's bounding talent with the bat, but the way their bowlers pegged back proceedings after Finch and Klinger's initial onslaught spoke volumes of the team's general cohesion.

Upul Tharanga is loving life at the helm while Angelo Mathews is sidelined by injury. Authoritative with the bat and comprehensive in the field, he epitomises what the Sri Lankans want in a stopgap leader.

Unlike the Aussies, the tourists do have more than one frontline spinner to call on - a plethora of them, indeed. Vikum Sanjaya's performance in the tour match against the Prime Minister's XI pledged more for the series opener, but he had a disappointing outing in Melbourne. Regardless, there is plenty to work with.

While Kardinia Park's track record doesn't offer much - nothing in the international space, in fact - conditions sees turn and bounce an expectation. This, again, will fall right into the visiting side's hands.

Verdict: Australia 42/100
With enough fight and mongrel to pull one back, Australia - the team, the nation - are not the type to go down quietly. They'll likely do enough in Geelong to set up a challenging series decider three days later in Adelaide.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for

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