Malinga set for return against new-look Australia

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Published by : CT WEB 2017-02-17 09:56:02

Sri Lanka spearhead Lasith Malinga will mark his return to International T20 after an year when Sri Lanka take on Australia in the first game in the three match T20I series to be played at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) today.

On 17 Friday, February, two different teams will represent Australia in two different matches on two different continents. The country's best cricketers - Steven Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood et al - will begin a three-day tour game in Mumbai ahead of the first Test against India.

But the match considered a full international is the one that will take place in Melbourne, where Aaron Finch will lead Australia's Twenty20 outfit in the first of three games against Sri Lanka. It is a remarkable scenario, but one that will at least give a few new faces - Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner and Michael Klinger, for example - an opportunity to represent their country. Still, the absence of such key players makes it hard not to view this as nearer to an Australia A outfit than the true national side.

Sri Lanka enter the series with closer to a full-strength squad, although like Australia they are without their regular T20 Captain - Angelo Mathews is unavailable due to a hamstring injury and Upul Tharanga will stand in as skipper.

However, it is a squad with plenty of changes from their most recent T20 group, with allrounders Dasun Shanaka and Milinda Siriwardana, as well as batsmen Dilshan Munaweera and Chamara Kapugedera included, having been left out of the touring party that won in South Africa last month.

The most notable inclusion is that of Lasith Malinga, who has played virtually no cricket for nearly a year due to injuries.

Lasith Malinga's return will be watched with great interest, for prior to Wednesday's Prime Minister's XI game in Canberra, he had not played a high-level match since February last year due to injuries. But Malinga is one of most accomplished bowlers in Twenty20 history - only Dwayne Bravo has more wickets in the format than the 300 Malinga has taken for nearly a dozen teams.

Expect Australia's batsmen to view Malinga as a man to be respected and seen off rather than attacked - even if he is a little rusty.

Squads:

Australia: Aaron Finch (C), Ben Dunk, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Michael Klinger, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (C), Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunarathna, Dilshan Munaweera, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardena, Sachith Pathirana, Chamara Kapugedera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekera, Isuru Udana, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Vikum Sanjaya.

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