Smith, Warner boost for Australia ahead of Sri Lanka Twenty20 series - GulfToday

Smith, Warner boost for Australia ahead of Sri Lanka Twenty20 series

Australia’s Steve Smith (above) is barred from holding any leadership role until the end of March, Aaron Finch will retain the captaincy.   File / Reuters

Australia’s Steve Smith (above) is barred from holding any leadership role until the end of March, Aaron Finch will retain the captaincy. File / Reuters

Steve Smith and David Warner return to the short format on Sunday in the first of Australia’s three games against a buoyant Sri Lanka, with both tipped for next year’s Twenty20 World Cup at home.

The star batsmen were both banned for a year for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal but have rejoined their country’s Test, one-day and now T20 sides.

Despite their success in other formats, Australia have never won a T20 World Cup, with a 2010 final appearance their best showing.

The competition gets underway Down Under next October and selectors are banking on the same 14 picked to play Sri Lanka forming the bulk of their side.

“We have looked to put a squad together that we think can take us through to that tournament,” said national selector Trevor Hohns.

“The squad we have selected is quite role specific and we believe it gives us the flexibility to thrive in all match conditions.”

Aaron Finch retains the captaincy, with Smith still barred from holding any leadership role until the end of March for his part on trying to alter the ball with sandpaper in South Africa last year.

Australia will be heavily relying on the widely acclaimed batsman after his incredible exploits on his return to the game in the recent Ashes series against England. Warner flopped in those five Tests but is Australia’s highest ever T20 run-scorer. He is set to open the innings with Finch, before Smith comes in at first drop.

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc spearhead the bowling attack, backed up by Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson and Billy Stanlake.

They will have their work cut out against a Sri Lankan side full of confidence after a stunning three-match T20 series sweep against Pakistan earlier this month.

Pakistan, who fired Sarafraz Ahmed as T20 and Test skipper in the aftermath, head to Australia for three games immediately after Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankans sent a second string team for the one-day and T20 series against their South Asian neighbours due to withdrawals over security concerns. But their squad for Australia, led by fast bowler Lasith Malinga, includes a host of returning senior players, including Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dikwella.

Two of the standout new faces from the Pakistan upset, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Oshada Fernando, have been retained and will get an opportunity to shine in Australia.

Malinga said his team would also use the series to prepare for the World Cup.

“If we perform well in those (Australian) conditions, then it will bode well for our preparations for the World Cup,” he said ahead of their departure from Colombo.

“And if you perform well on this tour, there will be a good chance of those players making it to the World Cup as well.”

The opening match is at Adelaide Oval on Sunday with the second in Brisbane three days later before the final game at Melbourne on Nov. 1. With a year left for the T20 World Cup, the 2009 champions Pakistan will be Australia’s next opponent in another three-match series starting in Sydney on Nov. 3 and Finch said he hopes the group chosen for the six matches will provide the base for the mega event squad.

The opening batsman said the preparation for the 2020 tournament is at a better stage than how they were placed at the same point 12 months ago for this year’s 50-over World Cup in England.

“A bit more advanced I would say, especially with the style we want to play,” Finch told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.

“We know what style we want to go with over the next 12 months. That makes it a bit clearer to be able to map out how you go about that. I expect it to be a little bit smoother. Obviously, with form and injury, the personnel can change,” Finch said.

Agencies

Australia squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Sri Lanka squad: Lasith Malinga (capt), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Isuru Udana and Kasun Rajitha.

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Zimbabwe trounce Afghanistan to win AD Test

A century from skipper Sean Williams coupled with destructive pace bowling from Blessing Muzarabani and Victor Nyauchi led Zimbabwe to a rapid 10-wicket win over Afghanistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Williams hit 105 to guide


That left Zimbabwe to score 17 runs which they got without any loss to end the match inside two days.

Afghanistan were bowled out for 131 in their first innings.

Lanky pacer Muzarabani finished with 2-14 -- six wickets in the match -- while his new ball partner Nyauchi took 3-30, also getting six in the match.

Afghanistan were facing an innings defeat at 81-7 but opener Ibrahim Zadran fought hard during his 76 -- his second half century -- and added 48 for the eighth wicket with Amir Hamza who remained 21 not out.

Zadran batted for three hours and hit ten boundaries.

This becomes Afghanistan’s third defeat in five Tests since gaining status to play the five-day format in 2017.

The writing was very much on the wall when Nyauchi had Abdul Malik in the second over for a duck for batsman’s pair on debut.

Nyauchi then had Rahmat Shah (zero) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (four) while Muzarabani had Munir Ahmad (one) and rival skipper Asghar Afghan (14) to leave Zimbabwe rocking at 47-6.

Nyuaci’s previous best of 3-69 was on his debut against Sri Lanka at Harare last year.

Earlier, resuming at 133-5, Zimbabwe added 117 more runs to gain crucial lead.

Williams, who resumed on 54 lost his overnight partner Ryan Burl for eight but then found an able partner in Regis Chakabva (44) as the duo added 75 for the seventh wicket.

Williams completed his third Test century, and second in successive Tests, soon after lunch with a single to square leg.

But he fell while flicking spinner Amir Hamza straight to mid-wicket.

Williams had 10 boundaries while Chakabva smashed a six and six boundaries.

Left-arm spinner Hamza finished with career-best figures of 6-75 -- his second five-for in Tests after his 5-74 against West Indies at Lucknow in 2019. The second Test starts on March 10, also in Abu Dhabi.

Scoreboard

Afghanistan first innings 131

Zimbabwe 1st innings (overnight 133-5)

S Williams c Hashmatullah b Hamza 105

R Burl lbw b Zadran 8

R Chakabva c Malik b Zahir 44

D Tiripano c Zadran b Zahir 4

B Muzarabani not out 12

V Nyauchi b Hamza 0

Total: (overs 72; all out) 250

Bowling: Ahmadzai 17.1-2-48-1 (1w), Hamza 25-3-75-6, Zahir 19-0-81-2, Wasi 8.5-0-23-0 (1nb), Zadran 2-0-13-1,

Afghanistan 2nd innings

I Zadran c Chakabva b Tiripano 76

A Malik c Chakabva b Nyauchi 0

M Ahmad lbw b Muzarabani 1

R Shah lbw b Nyauchi 0

H Shahidi c Madhevere b Nyauchi 4

A Afghan b Muzarabani 14

A Wasi b Burl 9

A Hamza not out 21

Y Ahmadzai c Williams b Tiripano 0

Z Khan c Nyauchi b Tiripano 0

Total: (overs 45.3; all out) 135

Bowling: Muzarabani 8-4-14-2, Nyauchi 7-1-30-3 (5w), Williams 6-0-28-1, Tripinao 9.3-2-23-3, Burl 7-0-13-1, Raza 4-0-16-0, Madhevere 4-1-6-0

Zimbabwe 2nd innings

P Masvaure not out 5

K Kasuza not out 11

TOTAL (overs 3.2, for no loss) 17

Bowling: Hamza 2-0-11-0, Ahmadzai 1.2-0-5-0

Result: Zimbabwe win by ten wickets

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