Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Twenty20, Pallekele August 5, 2011

Setting the tone for a tough tour


Match facts

August 6, Pallekele International Cricket Stadium
Start time 19:00 (13:30 GMT, 23:30 EST)

Big Picture

Australia commence their tour of Sri Lanka under a captain, Cameron White, who will be flying home once the Twenty20 matches have concluded. Sri Lanka, by contrast will be led in all three formats by Tillakaratne Dilshan, leading the team at home for the first time after taking over the reins for the England tour earlier this year.

Until a narrow victory over England in the second of two T20 matches following the Ashes, Australia's form in the shortest format had been poor, losing comfortably to the Sri Lankans in Perth last October and suffering a 2-0 series reverse against Pakistan in England during the 2010 northern summer. Michael Clarke's retirement from international T20 matches handed the captaincy to White, and he will now be hoping to get the tourists off to a strong start in Kandy.

The Sri Lankans have done rather better of late, defeating England in England, but that was their first T20 international since the aforementioned defeat of Australia at the WACA. Lasith Malinga's unavailability is a significant loss for the hosts, particularly as the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium and its new pitches have the potential for greater pace than most other surfaces on the island.

Both sides will want to set the tone for the tour with a first-up victory, as much to build confidence in their transitional teams as to get their opponents worried.

Form guide

Sri Lanka WWWLL
Australia WLLLL

In the spotlight

Angelo Mathews missed the Test series against Engalnd due to injury but eased his way back into some form during the subsequent limited overs matches to demonstrate why he was entrusted with the vice-captaincy before his 24th birthday. Explosive with the bat and intelligent with the ball, he played a key role in lifting the Sri Lankans to a memorable ODI victory over Australia at the MCG last year and will want to repeat the dose on home soil.

Steve O'Keefe, like his captain White, is only in Sri Lanka for the T20 matches, and is intent on showing that he should have been allowed to stay on. Peculiarly, his first-class bowling record is far better than any of his spin bowling rivals in Australia, but thus far the national selectors have declined to employ him further. O'Keefe has made no secret of his desire to push for bigger honours, and he can make a start by performing capably here to back-up the 3-29 he took on his T20 debut for Australia against Pakistan in 2010.

Team news

Sri Lanka's squad includes no fewer than six capable bowlers of spin, while the pace attack looks thin without Malinga, meaning Mathews or Nuwan Kulasekara can be expected to operate with the new ball. Aaron Finch is expected to be available having recovered from a rolled ankle suffered in training, and James Pattinson could be in line for a T20 debut.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Jeevan Mendis, 7 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Suraj Randiv, 11 Suranga Lakmal

Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Brad Haddin (wk), 4 David Hussey, 5 Cameron White (capt), 6 Shaun Marsh, 7 Steven Smith, 8 Steve O'Keefe, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Brett Lee, 11 James Pattinson

Pitch and conditions

The Australians have been delighted by a hint of pace in the Kandy practice wickets and are hopeful for more of the same from the match strip. The Sri Lankans have trained in the evening to prepare for any moisture that may be present for a 7pm start.

Stats and trivia

  • This is Australia's first T20 international in Sri Lanka
  • It is also the first such fixture at the Pallekelle International Stadium
  • Sri Lanka's captain Dilshan is the oldest man on either side at 34, shading the Australian fast bowler Brett Lee by a little more than a month
  • Dilshan will be looking for a greater share of his team's runs, having made a meagre 23 in the five ODIs against England


"Australian usually play very hard. They may be a bit inexperienced. But they are tough opponents."

Tillakaratne Dilshan is not underestimating the Australians

"Definitely I think the way a series should be run, or a tour should be run, is that you start with your Twenty20s, then your one-dayers and then your Test matches."

Brett Lee says the tourists are happy with their Sri Lanka program

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2011, 12:48 GMT

    Austrialian wil mis senior players, right now thay have new players, that is thebig diiffernce betmeen there side,,,,,, so lets see,,,,,,, Manlinga also big factor, but it is Lankan ground so Ausis wil b in trave,

  • Lou on August 6, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    I hope that the probable order of the Aus team is incorrect. Shaun Marsh should be in at 3 at the latest, he needs a few balls to get going but can then really motor. Haddin shouldn't even be in the team with his record over a number of years in the format but I guess if they left him out, he'd sook about it.

  • Bryn on August 6, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    australia bats deep, down the number 10. also howcome tait isnt playing???

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    dis vl be an exciting contest

  • sanjaya on August 6, 2011, 8:17 GMT

    Are they going to continue the test series as "Warne Murali trophy"? No one talk about that anymore.

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2011, 7:56 GMT


  • Sam on August 6, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    From an Aussie - I think the Lankans will miss Malinga but if DSM Inc (Dilshan, Sangy, Mahela) get going, then the games over. I really think Australia needs to win the toss - post 170 plus, then get the best from Lee, Mitch, O'Keefe etc to put the SL bats under scoring pressure. C White is a great T20 skipper and will do a great job. Who picked Steve Smith? The guy must have been mostly picked as a specialist fielder because his bowling and batting form is not great - funny seeing all the anti India from the guys on the blog, didnt they just win the World Cup??? Hey, India have come up against a side that has the top 6 batting lineup currently going around and a bowling set up to die for, plus a keeper who's in great form. I think Eng right now are awesome and would push a 2003 Australia side due to their batting depth, accurate, penetrative attack and self belief that only a great coach like Flower can deliver - I wish Australia had an Andy Flower, Neilsen is not great

  • Dishela Hansi on August 6, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    Somebody stated that Silva is not suitable but Kapugedara is. But I think These 2 Chamaras must be out of the final 15. @Dhakshika..You are asking, selectors to give confidence to Kapu. He has been given so many chances more than any other cricketer in the world. Has played 87 ODI's but average is just 22 & scored only 6 fifties. Silva played 71 ODI's average 29 and scored 1 hundred & 12 fifties. Kapugedara is the worse batsman I have ever seen. Even Kulasekara & Thisara are far better batsmen than POOR KAPUGEDARA. He must not be in 30men pool. 87 ODIs more than enough for a talented batsman to build up. That means Kapugedara is the Biggest Failure in SL cricket. Silva is also not a good batsman. I can't undrestand why SL selectors always want these 2 FAILURES to be in the top in SL cricket.@ To All IND fans who wishes SL to lose.. Yes may be Aussies win but that's the nature of cricket.. But as SL fans we don't tell poor excuses like "WE LOST BECAUSE WE MISSED SOME PLAYERS.." puh..

  • Sam on August 6, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    Luv my Australian team but have a real soft spot for Sri Lanka - Sangy is the best batsman to watch since Mark Waugh. The guy just looks like he's doing everything in slo-mo but has the power and timing of a genius, then you have the always entertaining and very damaging Dilshan and dont forget the old pro Mahela, best game awareness bat in the world. Hopefully the 3 Sri Lankan superstars play a lot of big shots but Australia still win.

  • Nishani Lochna Madhumali on August 6, 2011, 7:27 GMT

    @ Kalan9211..You must be an Indian fan. Because most of Indian fans stated so many Silly Excuses after being thrashed by super ENG team. You lost & will lose next two matches cuz your weaknesses.Indian team is showing their disabilities in ENG. But remember although we lose at home we are not going to state Silly Excuses like IND captain & fans did after losing to ENG,.."No Gambhir..No Shewag..That's why we lost hih hih..." You are lucky to have more Silly Excuses after Losing the Third Test " No Harbhajan..No Yuvraj..That's why We Lost..hih..hih.." ...@Vikas Dahiya.. You are also feeling the same like Kalan9211.. Don't be jealous of other teams..try to rectify your weaknesses.. Dilshan is a very good batsman in all three formats.. not like Dhoni whoi very very weak & poor in Test Matches.. All the very Best to SL..

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