Dilshan Set For Swansong Against Firing Australia

September 09, 2016

To watch Australia rewrite the T20 record books on Tuesday, you'd think they were the world's dominant team in the format. And indeed, they do boast two of the three highest T20 international totals of all time (263 for 3 this week and 248 for 6 against England in 2013) and all of the three highest individual scores (Aaron Finch 156, Glenn Maxwell 145*, and Shane Watson 124*). Yet, for all of those monster scores, Australia were booted out in the group stage of this year's World T20 and have only once made the final of that event, when they lost to England in 2010. It is a format in which Australia are inconsistent, but, as this week has shown, at their best their firepower is awesome.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, had won a World T20 title, back in 2014. Some links from that triumphant final remain - Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake. Some have gone - Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Rangana Herath, for example. And another is about to leave: Tillakaratne Dilshan, who played every match of that successful campaign, is set to play his final match for Sri Lanka. A batsman who has brought great joy to Sri Lanka - not least in the T20 format - Dilshan will hardly want to leave the game on a low, and Tuesday's match was about as low as it gets in T20Is.

In the spotlight

And so this is it. Five weeks before his 40th birthday, Tillakaratne Dilshan bows out of international cricket. A career that began in Bulawayo in November 1999 under the captaincy of Sanath Jayasuriya will end in Colombo in September 2016 under the selection regime run by the same man - Jayasuriya. Dilshan's 497th international match will be his last, a T20I against Australia at the Premadasa Stadium. Dilshan's long farewell has included some entertaining comments off the field, but now Sri Lankan fans hope that he says goodbye with something special on it.

Who needs a little thing like form? Not Glenn Maxwell, who missed out on selection for the recent ODIs in Sri Lanka due to a lack of runs. Instead, he was sent to Queensland to play for Australia A and made scores of 0, 38, 13, 0, 10 and 46. Hardly encouraging ahead of a return to Australia's side for the T20Is in Sri Lanka. But such is Maxwell's talent that once he got going in Pallekele he was impossible to stop, his unbeaten 145 from 65 deliveries the second-highest individual score in T20 international history. It was also Maxwell's first hundred in any format - including domestic cricket - for more than a year. If he's given the chance to open once again, Sri Lanka will need some new plans to stop him.

Team news

Sri Lanka's selectors will be tempted to make changes to the attack after their annihilation in the first game. Kasun Rajitha might lose his place to Dasun Shanaka, while there is also the chance that Milinda Siriwardana may be brought in, perhaps for Sachithra Senanayake.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1. Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt), 5 Kusal Mendis, 6 Thisara Perera, 7 Chamara Kapugedera, 8 Sachith Pathirana, 9 Sachithra Senanayake/Milinda Siriwardana, 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Dasun Shanaka.

Aaron Finch remains unavailable due to his broken finger and George Bailey has flown home, so Matthew Wade will play as a specialist batsman. The only question is whether the attack remains the same. The in-form John Hastings was left out of the first game and surely would be a valuable inclusion, but after the success of the first match the selectors may choose the same bowlers.

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

Pitch and conditions

Sri Lanka batted first in every ODI of the recent series and only once set Australia a target that was out of reach - at this ground, when they posted 288. There should be plenty of runs in this pitch once again.

Stats and trivia

It has been a very poor year for Sri Lanka in T20Is. In 2016 they have played 15 for only three wins - two of which came against Afghanistan and the UAE

The three highest individual scores in T20 internationals now all belong to Australians and two of those - Glenn Maxwell's 145* and Shane Watson's 124*, have come in 2016

Dilshan will finish his career second on the list of most T20 appearances (behind Shahid Afridi) and second on the list of most runs (behind Brendon McCullum)


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