With the emphatic six-wicket win in Canberra, Australia wrapped up the T20I series against Sri Lanka in straight sets, making the last two matches at the MCG dead rubbers. Australia revamped their line-up on Tuesday and are set to again experiment in Melbourne as they start preparing for a T20 World Cup title defence on home soil.
Fringe players Kane Richardson, Ashton Agar and Daniel Sams performed well, underlining Australia’s depth in their attack, but the batting has failed to really click this series. Skipper Aaron Finch, who moved down to No. 3 in a bid to arrest a form slump, batted determinedly with 35, but his trademark clean hitting has still been missing.
Australia will be aiming for a complete performance and further dominate a short-handed Sri Lanka, who produced a disappointing effort at Manuka Oval after a gutsy performance earlier. Their batting has been mostly strangled by Australia’s disciplined attack and been too reliant on Pathum Nissanka at the top.
Sri Lanka had bowled and caught well earlier, but rued a sloppy effort in the field in Canberra, where they dropped many chances as the series quickly slipped away from them. The tourists will need to sharpen every aspect of their game, otherwise they could be staring down the barrel of a 5-0 series defeat
After being named MVP of the recent BBL season, Ben McDermott was given an opportunity at the top of the order with David Warner resting. The 27-year-old grabbed his chance in the opening match with his first half-century at international level, but has missed out since, even registering a golden duck in Canberra.
It means McDermott’s overall T20I record is still modest, with an average of 15.66 and strike rate of 96.70 across 18 innings. Given a sustained run at his favoured opening role, the Hurricanes star will be hoping to light up the MCG in a way reminiscent of his belligerent batting in the BBL. Given Finch’s struggles, McDermott knows he has a couple of opportunities left in this series to apply serious heat on the selectors.
Kusal Mendis was understandably rusty in his return on Tuesday after missing the opening two matches because of Covid-19. He made just 4 from 11 balls and tamely spooned a return catch to Agar. It was his first T20I match since last June, as he copped a lengthy ban for breaching Covid-19 protocols during Sri Lanka’s tour of England mid last year.
Mendis has a middling T20I record, averaging just 18.06 from 30 matches, but his class is undeniable and he shores up a misfiring Sri Lanka batting order. With Australia’s frontline quicks missing, Mendis should fancy his chances of compiling a decent knock, having passed 15 just twice in his last ten T20I innings.
The pace trio Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc did not travel to Melbourne and will be rested for the last two matches of the series ahead of the tour of Pakistan. Steven Smith remains on the sidelines as he recovers from concussion, sustained last Sunday. Quick Jhye Richardson, who is being rested for the Pakistan tour, is set to play his first match since starring in Perth Scorchers’ BBL triumph last month. Having surprisingly been used as an opener, Agar could remain in the role with Finch likely to stay at No. 3.
Sri Lanka are set to remain without star allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga and quick Binura Fernando, who remain in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19. Quick Nuwan Thushara is in doubt after suffering a side strain seven balls into his spell on Tuesday.
Australia (possible): Ashton Agar, Ben McDermott, Aaron Finch (capt), Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Daniel Sams, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson
Sri Lanka (possible): Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Dasun Shanaka (capt), Chamika Karunaratne, Jeffrey Vandersay, Dushmantha Chameera, Maheesh Theekshana, Shiran Fernando
Kalinga, Aruna, Nadeesha qualify for Asian Games finals
by Reemus Fernando
All three Sri Lankan sprinters qualified for the finals of their respective disciplines to give country’s track and field campaign a positive start at the Asian Games on Friday.While Kalinga Kumarage and Aruna Dharshana qualified for the men’s 400 metres final, Asian Championship gold medallist Nadeesha Ramanayake reached the finals of the women’s 400metres.
Ramanayake clocked the third fastest time in the heats to qualify for the finals where Bahrain’s Oluwakemi Kujidat and Salwa Nesar are the strongest contenders for the gold medal.
Competing in the third heat Ramanayake clocked 52.67 seconds to finish second behind Oluwakemi Kujidat. Ramanayake’s time was the third fastest in the heats in the final analysis. While former world champion Salwa Nesar was the winner in the second heat, Shereen Samson of Malaysia won the first heat in a time of 52.89 seconds.
Both Salwa and Oluwakemi Kujidat were not in the fray when Ramanayake won Sri Lanka the gold medal at the recently held Asian Athletics Championship. Ramanayake will have a tough ask today when she competes for Asian Games glory.
In the men’s category 400 metres, Kumarage clocked 45.57 seconds to win his heat, while Aruna Dharshana finished third in his heat in a time of 46.07 seconds.\Kumarage’s 45.54 seconds is the third fastest time in the heats, while Dharshana enters final as the eighth fastest from the heats.
All three sprinters will be eager to create history when they compete in the 400 metres finals. Sri Lanka has not won a medal of any colour in track and field at these Games since 2006.
Sri Lanka won two bronze medals at the Asian Games in Doha. Susanthika Jayasinghe in the women’s 200 metres and the men’s 4×400 metres team of Sugath Thilakaratne, Rohan Pradeep Kumara, Prasanna Amarasekara and Ranga Wimalawansa were the last medallist for Sri Lanka in track and field at these Games.
New Zealand 96-17 Italy: All Blacks move to cusp of Rugby World Cup quarter-finals
Superb New Zealand scored an incredible 14 tries and hit 96 points against Italy in Pool A to move to the cusp of the World Cup quarter-finals.
Knowing a defeat would see them eliminated, the All Blacks raced into a pulsating 49-3 half-time lead. They ultimately ran out 96-17 victors with scrum-half Aaron Smith scoring a hat-trick after just 33 minutes.
The All Blacks will guarantee a spot in the knockouts with a win over Uruguay in their final pool match on Thursday. Italy must beat hosts France in their next match to reach a first World Cup quarter-final.
The All Blacks’ win sees them jump up to second in Pool A, level on points with Italy who they now have a superior head-to-head record over.
New Zealand cruise past Pakistan’s 345 with five wickets in hand
Kane Williamson’s return to action headlined New Zealand’s first official warmup match of the 2023 World Cup as they hit the right notes with the bat in a high-scoring game in Hyderabad. Mohammad Rizwan (103) and Babar Azam (80) provided a good platform and the middle order got amongst the runs to help Pakistan post 345. The total, however, proved insufficient as New Zealand, led by Rachin Ravindra’s 97 and three other half-century scores, including that of Williamson, pulled off the chase with 6.2 overs to spare
After Devon Conway was dismissed by Hasan Ali for a golden duck, Ravindra and Williamson got together and added 179 runs in just 22 overs to power New Zealand’s chase. Williamson decided to retire after crossing fifty while Ravindra was dismissed by Agha Salman before he could get a ton. Usama Mir then picked up the wickets of Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips in quick succession but fifties from Mark Chapman and Daryl Mitchell, and an important 33 from James Neesham, helped New Zealand over the line in the 44th over.
Earlier, After opting to bat, Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq in the second over to Matt Henry while Mitch Santner had Abdullah Shafique out stumped. Babar, who started watchfully, found his groove while Rizwan also scored at a steady rate as they raised a century partnership to set things up nicely for Pakistan. Babar, however, missed a hundred while Rizwan retired after reaching three figures, giving Pakistan’s lower middle order some time out in the middle. Saud Shakeel (75) and Agha Salman (33*) came up with handy contributions to propel Pakistan past 340.
Pakistan 345/5 in 50 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 103, Babar Azam 80; Mitch Santner 2-39) lost to New Zealand 346/5 in 43.4 overs (Rachin Ravindra 97, Mark Chapman 65; Usama Mir 2-68) by 5 wickets
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