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T20 Preview: Australia v Sri Lanka Game Five

Australia and Sri Lanka will square off for the fifth and final time to end a one-sided T20 series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday evening, with the home side looking to make it a clean sweep and complete what has been just about the perfect home summer. 

The number of matches might have been somewhat limited with just the Ashes series and this T20 series, but if Australia win the final game, they will have gone the entire summer without a loss. Their only failure to gain a result in the win column thus far came during the drawn Sydney Test against England, when they fell a single wicket short after more than 50 overs were lost throughout the contest thanks to rain. 

That of course followed the victorious T20 World Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates. While the messy departure of Justin Langer as head coach of the national team has played out in the background through the string of results, nothing has seemed to be able to derail the Aussies, who have played simply exceptional cricket. 

Their results aside, the performances during the T20 series at times haven’t been considered to be among their best. They required a super over to get the job done during the second Sydney encounter following what captain Aaron Finch described as “sloppy” fielding.  

That came before they found themselves in a hole chasing 139 in the fourth match on Friday in Melbourne, only for Glenn Maxwell and Josh Inglis to belt 48 off 39 and 40 off 20 respectively to see Australia home by six wickets and with 11 balls to spare.  

While questions continue to be asked over their batting order – with Ashton Agar surprisingly opening the last two matches – Australia have always found a way to pull matches out of the fire in this series, and it’s hard not to see that continuing during the final contest, despite Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in the last couple.  

Australia’s bowling has been the key difference between the two sides so far, and even without Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, they were still well on top in Melbourne. Jhye Richardson joined the side to take 2 for 20 from his four, while Ashton Agar managed 1 for 14 from his allotted overs. Kane Richardson went for runs but picked up with wickets, with Australia simply executing on their strategies to limit the tourists. 

 Pathum Nissanka was once again among the best for Sri Lanka, scoring 46 off 40, while Charith Asalanka made 22 off 19 and looked dangerous again, as he has done for most of the series, however, neither could get going to the extent where they ever looked likely of putting enough pressure on the Aussie bowlers to set what could be considered a score at or above par. 

That, in essence, has been the problem for Sri Lanka most of the series – being able to get the Aussie bowlers away. 

Against a team like the Aussies, you need a score better than par, and they simply haven’t got it so far. 

It’s hard to see that changing now, and Australia should complete a 5-0 series rout in Melbourne before packing the plane up and heading to Pakistan for a multi format tour in what should be a far tougher challenge than what they have faced this summer. 


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