The third game of a quick 5-game T20 series between Australia and Sri Lanka sees the action move to Canberra tonight. The Aussies have had a fright two games in a row, but travel to Manuka Oval looking to seal the series with a 2-0 lead. The young Sri Lankan team is far from perfect, but there are some talented players who have introduced themselves to Aussie audiences with plucky performances. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that they keep pushing a flawed Australian batting group to the limit. The Canberra weather looks likes it will be perfect for cricket (which is handy, as I’ll be in attendance).


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Expected Australia XI: Finch, McDermott, Inglis, Henriques, Maxwell, Stoinis, Wade, K Richardson, Starc, Zampa, Cummins/Hazlewood

Expected S XI: Gunathilaka, Nissanka, Asalanka, Mendis, Chandimal, Shanaka, Vandersay, Karunaratne, Chameera, Theekshana, N Thushara

Note: Wanindu Hasaranga is out of the T20 after testing positive for COVID.

The Aussies are $1.18 favourites, with the close games so far having had little impact on the odds. Steve Smith is out after concussing himself in an amazing bit of boundary line fielding. Moises Henriques is most likely to come in for him. One of the fast bowlers backing up from the Ashes may be rested, with Pat Cummins most likely but Josh Hazlewood also an option. That should buy Kane Richardson another game, as well as bring Mitch Starc back into the team. The batting has been as spotty as expected so far, with Ben McDermott and Josh Inglis doing well as the new blood, and Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell struggling for form, along with Smith. If 2 or 3 of these players can fire at the same time, some much bigger wins are on their way.


The only expected change for Sri Lanka is for Kusal Mendis to return from isolation, likely for Gunathilaka. Pathum Nissanka has been the star with the bat so far, while the bowling is led by plucky spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and ably supported by Chameera & Karunaratne in particular. Binura Fernando going into isolation was a loss after he nailed his yorkers and bouncers so well in the first game. Getting more out of talented Charith Asalanka as well as the returning Mendis would help put more runs on the board, while not much more can be asked of the bowling line-up.


Love It- Josh Inglis $15,300

The pocket rocket wicket keeper from WA really is all class at this level, and he’s shown that in his first couple of games for his country. While it didn’t quite come off in game 1, a quality inning of 48 was probably the only reason Australia wasn’t beaten in game 2. It’s only a matter of time until he takes the gloves from Matt Wade, and could even force Smith out of the team when Marsh and Warner return. While the price is going up quickly, it’s probably still more than fair for this game. At the same price I have little confidence in the fading Aaron Finch going anywhere near his ceiling, and I think Marcus Stoinis is a good play in his all-rounder role, but would still slightly prefer Inglis.


Love It- Mitch Starc $14,200

If he does indeed come back into the team, I see little reason not to play Starc at this price. His form is always an enigma, but we know he was pretty good in the Ashes, and that a big performance is never too far away. With Zampa and Hazlewood getting a little out of reach price wise, Starc, Cummins and Richardson all hold plenty of appeal at what I would call generous prices. If Cummins is indeed rested, then it’s Starc slightly ahead of Richardson as my favourite bowling plays.


Don’t Love It- Dasun Shanaka $11,200

Shanaka has been very solid so far, ending up as one of the best plays in game 2 thanks to a nice cameo with the bat. Alas, part of his appeal is that he’s an all-rounder who can give us 2+ overs, and that hasn’t been happening so far. He bowled one over in game 1, and nothing in game 2. That means we’re likely relying on more runs from #6, and with ownership likely creeping up at this low price I’d rather take a look at the likes of Mendis, Chandimal or Asalanka in a similar range and with more batting upside.


Don’t Love It- Avishka Fernando $8,800

I’m going to stick with picking on a minimum priced Fernando in this slot as he’s been his usual self in both games so far. In both innings he’s come on, played a big shot for a boundary straight away, and then gotten himself out immediately. While his ODI career has been decent and he’s certainly loaded with talent, he’s still done virtually nothing in 32 T20 matches. His ability to build an innings appropriately is missing, and this ruthless Aussie bowling attack is going to continue to exploit this weakness.


Who Knows- Glenn Maxwell $19,400

Like Shanaka, part of Maxwells appeal is that he can often chip in with a couple of overs and the odd wicket. He’s also only seen one over so far, with Marcus Stoinis preferred as the 5th bowling option. That could change at the bigger Manuka Oval where spin might be seen as more valuable, but even if it doesn’t a big innings with the bat can’t be too far away. Consistency is never the hallmark of Maxwells career, but a massive explosion is never far away. With Smith out he might move up the totem pole a little with a #4 berth quiet likely, meaning he should get plenty of opportunity to bat. It could go horribly wrong again at a high price, but I won’t be giving up on Maxwell just yet.


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