Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st T20I February 17, 2017

Gunaratne's send-off, Tharanga's bittersweet day

The plays from the first T20I between Australia and Sri Lanka at the MCG

Asela Gunaratne was hit for six off his first ball but got his own back by removing Aaron Finch two deliveries later © Getty Images

The first ball

Nineteen years and 475 senior-level matches after his state debut, Michael Klinger finally got the chance to walk out to bat for Australia, at his old home ground, the MCG, no less. Opening the batting alongside Aaron Finch, Klinger took a moment to look around the ground as he got his bearings, and stood at the non-striker's end as the acting captain took the first ball of the match. When a single took Klinger to the pointy end, his first assignment was far from the easiest - Lasith Malinga with a new ball. But a ping off his pads for a couple of runs was a more than satisfactory result, as was a composed 38 that gave the hosts a decent start.

The cover drive

Finch showed attacking intent almost from the first ball he faced, eager to lead the way as Australian captain for the week. He has always been a player of enormous power, and subtlety has not always been a strength. When he tried a switch-hit against Seekkuge Prasanna, he chose the wrong ball, angling down the leg side. Finch's instinctive response was to try to hit with the angle of the delivery, resulting in what was best described as a left-handed cover drive. Not surprisingly, he failed to make contact, scrambling a leg bye instead.

The revenge

When Asela Gunaratne came on to bowl, Finch was looking for further acceleration. When Gunaratne's first dibbly-dobbly landed obligingly on a length with enough room for Finch to free his arms, he sent the ball into orbit in the general direction of Richmond train station. Hit to the longer side of the ground given the pitch's location, it was one of the bigger hits seen at the MCG in quite a while. Yet Gunaratne was not perturbed, mixing up his pace and coaxing a skier from Finch two balls later with a cutter. The bowler's celebration, having been hammered out of the ground a couple balls before, was justified.

The captain

Mark Taylor famously started his Australian captaincy with a pair against Pakistan in Karachi in 1994. Twenty-three years later, he was in the commentary box as Upul Tharanga began his leadership of the Sri Lanka Twenty20 side in similarly inauspicious fashion. Having won the toss, he was unable to hang onto a pair of catches while in the field, and then when opening the batting he was unable to avoid edging his second delivery - an admittedly superb ball from Pat Cummins. Taylor's Test ended with the frustration of a one-wicket defeat; however Tharanga's emotions were rather more positive as Sri Lanka chased boldly for victory.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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