Melbourne is home to nearly half of all Sri Lankans who reside in Australia-nearly 60,000 in all. And you can expect most, if not all, of them to show up and cover the vast expanse of the MCG in the Lankan blue. But the question is will the Sri Lankan team actually turn up. In the body, they certainly will but in spirit? Not on the basis of how they’ve gone in the series so far.
If anything the Australians, on the field that is, will be hoping that they do more than even they themselves would. This is after all the start of a lengthy campaign that Aaron Finch & Co. have embarked on to first claim the top ranking in T20I cricket and then lay their claim for a title that Australia have never won.
Not to forget that they already have the current No.1 ranked team, Pakistan, in their backyard and having made a commanding start to their tour in the warm-up game. And they’ll need more competition to get going and get tested in that regard, even if being indomitable and crushing opponents in clinical fashion like they have this week isn’t a bad way to go about it.
There’s still a long way to go till that World Cup but Australia will want to ask certain questions of themselves before they start feeling more settled with their setup. Steve Smith’s return to the crease in T20I cricket was sensational, so were his revelations pre-game about him playing at his best on zero sleep, his different stances for different formats and his guitar skills. But that Smith is the best batsman in the country, and perhaps the world, was already known even if his exact role in this format still needs defining and feels more flexible at this stage.
David Warner continued his dream run in white-ball cricket and the bowlers were as clinical as they were in Adelaide. The rest of the batsmen are still to come to the crease, forget the party, and Glenn Maxwell’s unfortunate break from the game should get the likes of Ashton Turner and Alex Carey to get a hit if Sri Lanka and their own openers allow them the opportunity.
On the evidence of how they’ve managed to both curtail and derail the Sri Lankan middle-order in the middle overs, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar should be considered as certainties going forward. But like with most of what Australia has achieved so far this week, they’ll want to wait till the end of the Pakistan series to be fully convinced.
Billy Stanlake bowled with fire on the bouncy Gabba pitch and should be tested a little more ideally on the flatter MCG pitch. Kane Richardson meanwhile has been honest in his two outings without really doing enough to ascertain a regular place in the playing XI, especially once Andrew Tye is back from injury.
Lasith Malinga looked rather cross with his batsmen at the end of the last match, and you’d think they possibly can’t do worse than what they’ve dished out so far. Both Malinga and Australia can only hope.