With the ICC World T20 the only piece of major silverware missing in Australia’s bursting trophy cabinet, Aaron Finch’s team will look to get things under control in the upcoming T20I series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan a year before hosting the global tournament.
It is a massive opportunity for Australia to seal two trophies in a quick span of time and start their preparations for the coveted event with a bang.
Australia kick off their home summer at Adelaide Oval on Sunday against a spirited young Lanka, who recently thrashed Pakistan 3-0 in Lahore to win hearts across the globe.
The two of the other matches are set to follow in Brisbane (October 30) and Melbourne (November 1).
Lanka will aim to give their best under Lasith Malinga, who is the trump card for the visitors.
Australia will then turn their attention to the 2009 champions Pakistan in another three-match series starting in Sydney from November 3 onwards.
It is a six-match affair for Australia and they would want to come out unscathed to gain some confidence in the shortest format.
After exiting the 2019 World Cup in the semi-finals, Australia is set to feature in their maiden limited-overs series and there is plenty to look forward to.
Here we analyze what the Aussies can aim for in the two successive T20I series on offer.
Australia will get a good look at the players, formulate ideas
The two series will give the Aussies a preview of playing conditions ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup here.
Having said that, they need to be at their utmost best in terms of familiarity and confidence.
That’s what these two series will give in terms of preparations and belief.
The Aussies have handed chance to several fresh players and they can push their credentials to stake a claim.
Most importantly, the side will be boosted by the returns of Steve Smith and David Warner in the T20I set-up.
Warner was terrific in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League and the 2019 World Cup.
Smith was at its sublime best in The Ashes 2019 having scored a mouth-watering 774 runs in the series.
Several fringe players like Kane Richardson will be eyeing these stints as the perfect chance to nail down a place in the side. With a view on the World T20, expect players like him to give their all. “I don’t think there has been so much T20 in a calendar year with a lead-up to the (one-day) World Cup and another one close by,” 28-year-old Richardson said.
He would be competing against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Billy Stanlake.
What Australia can do well is to formulate ideas.
They will get a good hang of the players at disposal and see how the balance is formed. This bunch has the quality to impress and get past the line.
Aussies boosted by Warner and Smith’s presence
Warner and Smith are set to play their first international series on home pitches since their ball-tampering bans.
One expects the two to get cheered on by the crowd after their impact on the field posts their bans.
Smith will garner the most focus. He is set to play his first T20I in three-and-a-half years.
He has played 30 T20Is for Australia and has a poor average of 21.55 that includes just two fifties.
Smith would want a fresh lease of life in the shortest format and it’s a crucial phase for him in order to gain some control.
Meanwhile, the hard-hitting Warner will pad up for his first T20I since February 2018, a month before the Newlands scandal erupted.
He will open the batting alongside Aaron Finch and one would want to see the two to replicate their form seen during the ICC World Cup 2019.
“Hopefully I can get the tempo of the game straight away and have a good few weeks with the Australian team,” Smith had said earlier this week.
Opener Warner will also have something to prove in the wake of a miserable Ashes where he averaged 9.50 in a 2-2 series draw. “Obviously it’s the first time in my career I have been under a bit of pressure and I hadn’t scored runs,” Warner told broadcaster Fox Sports‘ season launch earlier this week.
A tricky test lies ahead against Lanka and Pakistan
Lanka are inexperienced and beating Australia at their own backyard might be a tough nut to crack.
Although, the recent series win against Pakistan will give them immense confidence.
However, Aussies know that they are in with a chance here to overcome the islanders.
Going by the head-to-head record between Australia and Lanka, out of 13 T20Is, the visitors have won eight.
In 2017, Lanka came Down Under and beat Australia 2-1 in the three-match series.
Therefore, things will not be easy for Finch and Co. T20I is all about the small moments in the game. Aussies need to hand them better.
Pakistan, on the other hand, comes from a difficult period. The number one T20I side in the world will be aiming to lead a fight under new skipper Babar Azam.
The talented Babar is wanting to see his team produce the goods and play a strong brand of cricket.
Pakistan will fight hard and want to show why they are the best side.
Therefore, Australia will not have it easy.
Finch will want to draw inspiration from his side’s series win over India earlier this year away from home.
If the side can dictate in these crucial moments, then expect the team to come out on top and play a serious brand of cricket.
A look at Australia’s squad to face Lanka in the T20Is: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye (ruled out with an injury), David Warner and Adam Zampa.