Oz, Lanka renew rivalry

With Brett Lee in the forefront, Australia’s cricketers warm up for Saturday’s T20 international against Sri Lanka in Pallekele. AP

Seasoned Australian fast bowler Brett Lee said he felt the Twenty20 games were the right way to start the seven-week tour, which also features five one-day internationals and three Tests.

“I think it builds the hype,” the 34-year-old said. “If you were to have it towards the end after a Test series, it probably would not work as well.”

“I think the way a tour should be run is that you start with the Twenty20s, then the one-dayers and then the Test matches. It just flows beautifully into the longer form of the game,” Lee added.

Australia will look to rebuild their battered reputation during the tour after falling to fifth place in the Test rankings, one behind Sri Lanka.

The Aussies, winners of four World Cup titles, were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the last edition played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh earlier this year.

Australia’s Twenty20 captain Cameron White will return home after Monday since he is not part of either the one-day or Test squad that will be led by Michael Clarke.

The Twenty20 games will be played under floodlights at the Pallekele International stadium, a new facility near the hill town of Kandy built for the World Cup.

Sri Lanka, led by hard-hitting opener Tillakaratne Dilshan, will miss the now retired off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who is injured. But all-rounder Angelo Mathews, the team’s new vice-captain, was hopeful the bowling attack would look sharp even without the spearheads.

“Lasith and Murali are exceptional people and I think that while we have got talent, nobody can replace them,” he said. “But there are good youngsters coming up.”
Australia and Sri Lanka have so far played four Twenty20 matches, with each team winning two. The stadium in Pallekele was built in time for the World Cup earlier this year, and will be hosting its first T20 international.

Squads: Australia: Cameron White (captain), Shane Watson, David Warner, Brad Haddin, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith, Steve O’Keefe, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, James Pattinson.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan (captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Thisara Perera, Dhammika Prasad, Suranga Lakmal, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silva, Shaminda Eranga.

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