Australia will look to take an unassailable lead in their T20 series with Sri Lanka as the teams move from Sydney to Canberra for the third match in the five-game series.
It took Australia a super over (and some luck on a controversial wide call) to get the job done in the second T20, with Sri Lanka seeming to adjust to the conditions after a first match which saw them barely competitive with the bat as they tried to chase down a score which was barely deemed par.
After scoring 149 and defending it strongly on Friday, Australia ended up with 164 in Sunday night’s second clash between the nations, with Josh Inglis once again playing a leading role with the bat from his number three position, this time scoring 48 off just 32 balls.
Contributions were secured from just about everyone else in the batting line up, however, Aaron Finch was the only other player to make it past 20, leaving Australia with a constant stream of wickets and, as a result, a score which could well have been considered marginally below par by the time it was all said and done.
Following an exceptional T20 World Cup, Wanindu Hasaranga was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers, taking 2 for 33, while Dushmantha Chameera provided strong back up with 2 for 30.
That was nothing in comparison to Josh Hazlewood though, who has been the key difference between the two sides to start the series. Following an excellent Game 1 performance, he followed it up with 3 for 22 from his four overs in the run chase, while Adam Zampa also went at just six and a half runs per over. That’s form which has been carried over from the World Cup, and, in the case of Hazlewood, has been carried into the super over where he limited Sri Lanka to just five.
Australia were never not going to chase that down in their own six balls, with Hazlewood again posing as the key man in Canberra as he continues his return from injury which stopped him from playing in four out of the five Ashes Tests during the recently completed home summer.
Between Hazlewood and Zampa, Australia’s attack has been in fine form, however, a young and talented Sri Lankan side are starting to find their feet, and that’s without their World Cup leader – Charith Asalanka, who scored 231 runs at the tournament – making a valuable contribution yet.
Instead, it was Pathum Nissanka leading the way in the second match, scoring 73 from just 53 balls, while Dinesh Chandimal – the experienced veteran who played more than 60 T20 internationals for his country – also spent time in the middle which could be a major cause for concern to the Australian bowlers in Canberra.
The Aussies own batting was slightly below where it needed to be during the first T20s, given the constant flow of wickets and only a handful making runs in the first T20, while the second saw everyone make contributions, but outside of Inglis, none of them doing a great deal of individual damage.
That doesn’t mean Australia don’t go into this third T20 as favourites to wrap up the series with two to play, but Sri Lanka are getting closer, and it could be expected they will be competitive once again before going down and losing the series.