Match facts

September 6, 2016
Start time 1900 local (1330 GMT)

Big Picture

Sri Lanka may have the beginnings of a future-proof Test team, but in the shorter formats, the juggernaut that is their transition rolls relentlessly on. So long has it reigned now, it probably deserves to be capitalised: Transition. Perhaps in years to come, Sri Lankan historians will see fit to add a prefix, and it will become "The Great Transition". Whatever the case, it continues to guzzle up players and spit out empty husks of international careers, chewing up those husks and spitting them up even emptier, fans wailing by the roadside in rags, a terrible limited-overs drought afflicting their once-lush land.

Back together in this current squad are players like Chamara Kapugedara, Sachithra Senanayake and Thisara Perera, many of whom had been part of Sri Lanka's T20 boom years, from 2009-2014, but their presence does not seem a guarantee the boom years will come again. The more experienced hands are as much on trial as the likes of Kasun Rajitha or Dasun Shanaka. A big, limited-overs breakthrough continues to evade them.

Australia are without Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn, but through the ODI series, their bowlers cracked Sri Lanka's dusty pitches, and the batsmen steadily developed a taste for spin. David Warner's scored his first Asian limited-overs ton playing a more measured brand of cricket than he would have liked, but now that he is in the runs, the T20 format may bring the violence out of him. George Bailey seems the most assured batsman playing in this series. Even Mathew Wade and Travis Head look well-set to contribute.

Like Sri Lanka, Australia had also exited this year's World T20 at the end of the group stage, but during that campaign, had beaten Bangladesh and Pakistan, both of whom Sri Lanka had lost to in the preceding Asia Cup.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia: LWWLW
Sri Lanka: LLLLW

In the spotlight

Tillakaratne Dilshan has had an eventful week since playing his last ODI. He made veiled accusations about Angelo Mathews in the press conference after that match, and neither Mahela Jayawardene nor Kumar Sangakkara came off well in Dilshan's verbal memoirs either. In addition to suggesting he did not have these players' support during his captaincy, Dilshan has also taken umbrage at some team-mates "trying to rename the dilscoop by saying it is a shot a cricketer with no brain plays". The comments have divided opinion, but Dilshan remains a draw card for one final series. He will want to give evidence to his claim that he could easily have played two more years.

Adam Zampa's T20 career began in South Africa, where he went wicketless in two games, but Asia has been kinder to him. He took five wickets across two games in the World T20, and has generally been economical, if a shade under-bowled. Having now imposed himself in Sri Lanka in the ODIs, claiming nine wickets at 20.77, the opposition will turn out on Tuesday with a plan to neutralise him. If Zampa can get through that trial, however, he will have made further headway in what is becoming a good limited-overs career.

Teams news

There are so many injuries and so many permutations with the Sri Lanka squad that pinning down an XI is difficult. Kusal Perera is likely to return to the top of the order. In the past, Sri Lanka have liked to stack their team with allrounders.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1. Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 5 Chamara Kapugedara, 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Sachith Pathirana, 9 Seekkuge Prasanna, 10 Sachithra Senanayake, 11 Kasun Rajitha

The visitors' XI is no less difficult to predict, as they have not played T20s since March. On current form, Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner, John Hastings and Zampa should make up the bulk of the attack.

Australia(possible): 1 David Warner (capt.), 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 George Bailey, 4 Travis Head, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Matthew Wade, 7 James Faulkner, 8 Peter Nevill (wk), 9 John Hastings, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Adam Zampa

Pitch and conditions

The Pallekele surface aids both quicks and spinners under lights, so the match is unlikely to be a high scorer. There is a small chance light showers could interrupt play. The game is already sold out.

Stats and trivia

  • Pallekele is the scene of Tillakaratne Dilshan's lone T20 hundred, also against Australia, in 2011.
  • In eight T20s between these sides, Sri Lanka have won six and lost two.
  • George Bailey needs 30 runs to complete 500 in the format.
  • Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando