Australia captain Aaron Finch declared his side will continue "tinkering" until the start of the T20 World Cup after starring in a three-wicket win over West Indies on Wednesday.

The Windies set a total of 145-9 before reducing Australia to 58-5 within eight overs on the Gold Coast, but Finch (58) and Matthew Wade (39 not out) led the hosts' successful recovery.

Taking an unfamiliar role at number four in the batting order, Finch moved to within 27 runs of becoming the first Australia batsman to score 3,000 runs in T20I history.

The world champions have experimented with their line-up in recent outings, including when Cameron Green opened during last month's tour of India, and Finch expects that to continue. 

"Both teams were sloppy if they are honest with themselves," he said. "But it's good to get across the line.

"We knew that total would be a challenge on that wicket, we did really well early and they took wickets in the middle.

"It would have been nice to get us over the line, I was trying to target the boundary but mishit one. I didn't like getting the first one in the head, but I really enjoy batting in the middle order. 

"It was just something different, we might change it up in the next match. We are going to keep tinkering with things until we get to the World Cup."

Australia will begin their defence of the World Cup against New Zealand on October 22 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

West Indies lost their opening T20 International against Australia in Queensland on Wednesday by three wickets with a ball to spare to go 0-1 down in the two-match series.

Captain Aaron Finch doubts Cameron Green can force his way into Australia's T20 World Cup squad, even if he dazzles in two warm-up games against West Indies this week.

Green was not included when Australia picked their 15-man group five weeks ago.

The impressive form of the 23-year-old since that selection has caught the eye, with two half-centuries in three innings against India last month showcasing his attacking talent.

Yet Finch sees his squad as being settled, with Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis on the way back to full fitness after respective ankle and side strain injuries.

Asked about Green's prospects of playing in the tournament, Finch said: "I'm not sure at the moment – I don't think so."

This is not to say Finch cannot see Green contributing immensely to Australia in the short and long term, but the World Cup decision has been taken.

"It's just one of those things," said Finch. "He had a really good tour of India, it was good for him to get an opportunity to open the batting, so he'll get more opportunities.

"He'll get an opportunity at some point in this series. The reason we've carried him is to have an extra bowling resource as well.

"Obviously his batting is exceptional, and he shows a lot with the ball. He keeps developing and he keeps improving every time he gets an opportunity."

David Warner and Mitchell Starc have returned to the Australia ranks after missing the short India series.

Australia have won two of their last three men's T20Is against West Indies (L1), including an eight-wicket victory in their most recent meeting last November.

Wednesday's series opener in Carrara will be the fourth men's T20I between the teams in Australia, and the first since West Indies won the last such game in February 2013, having been beaten in their previous two against the hosts.

Finch, Hazlewood, Cottrell closing on landmarks

There is a landmark for Finch to chase, since he is 85 away from becoming the sixth player to score 3,000 runs in men's T20I history and the first from Australia.

The skipper has struggled against the Windies, however, averaging 19.5 in eight previous T20I innings, with a high score of 53 against the Caribbean side.

West Indies have been pushed into a World Cup squad change after batter Shimron Hetmyer failed to make his intended flight, with Shamarh Brooks promoted to take his place.

Brooks is not yet in Australia, where the coming games will see a pace bowler from each side look to reach 50 wickets in T20I matches.

Australia's Josh Hazlewood is on 49, putting him one away from becoming the third Australian man to reach 50 wickets in the short format, after Adam Zampa and Mitchell Starc.

Wednesday's game will be Hazlewood's 34th T20I, and only three quicks have reached 50 wickets in fewer matches: Mark Adair, in 28 matches for Ireland; and Mustafizur Rahman, who reached the mark in 33 games for Bangladesh.

West Indies' Sheldon Cottrell has 48 wickets in the format to date, two short of becoming the fourth men's West Indies bowler to take 50, following Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine.

Mitchell Marsh will return to the batting order when Australia step up their T20 World Cup preparations against West Indies on Wednesday, captain Aaron Finch has confirmed.

Meanwhile, Marcus Stoinis is expected to return for Sunday's opening T20I against England, having joined Marsh in missing the recent tour of India.

Marsh has not featured since an ODI outing against Zimbabwe in August after sustaining an ankle injury, leaving Cameron Green to deputise throughout last month's 2-1 series defeat in India.

While Marsh will not bowl against the Windies, Finch believes a place at number three is his to lose, saying: "One-hundred per cent, he's made that spot his own in T20 cricket. 

"I think the way that he played in the lead-up and then through the World Cup [last year] is so important for the way that we want to play and gives us a lot of flexibility through that middle order.

"I think he had his second bowl yesterday and he felt really good. He pulled up well from it. So that's a really positive sign.

"I think for the balance of the side, it's better when they [Marsh and Stoinis] are both bowling because you can get caught a little bit short if you go in with five bowlers. But we'll work that out."

Having suffered a side strain in early September, Stoinis has not travelled to the Gold Coast for Australia's meetings with the Windies, but will join the squad in Perth for the first of three matches against England.

Finch is hopeful over Stoinis' fitness, highlighting the role of logistics in that decision as he added: "He's at a level where we think that he'll be fully fit for that first game against England.

"We were just conscious of the travel with a quick turnaround. It can be quite a high-risk game for some guys with some soft tissue injuries so he's just still planning and preparing there. 

"He's such an important part of our side and the make-up of it, especially with his bowling."

While Green performed well in India, recording scores of 62 and 52, Finch doubts whether he can force his way into Australia's 15 for the World Cup if Marsh and Stoinis stay fit.

"I don't think so," Finch added. "It's just one of those things. He had a really good tour of India. It was good for him to get an opportunity to open the batting.

"I think he'll get an opportunity at some point in this series. Obviously his batting is exceptional and he shows a lot with the ball. 

"He keeps improving every time he gets an opportunity but over the next few weeks, he'll get a run, no doubt."

Australia begin their World Cup defence against neighbours New Zealand on October 22

Australia will have their minds fixed firmly on the T20 World Cup when it comes to the decisions made in their series against India, so says Aaron Finch, who will go "back to basics" with the bat.

Finch's team will look to defend their world title on home soil in October and November, though their immediate focus is on a three-match T20I series with India.

The series starts in Mohali on Tuesday, with India aiming to snap a three-match home losing streak in the format to Australia.

Finch, meanwhile, comes into the series on the back of playing his 146th and final ODI for Australia, with the 35-year-old having confirmed his retirement from the 50-over game ahead of his side's final match against New Zealand earlier this month.

Since the beginning of 2018, no player has top scored for Australia in men's T20Is more often than Finch who has led the team's scoresheet on 13 occasions during this span. However, he has struggled for form in ODIs, only getting into double figures once from his last eight matches.

Finch has been better in T20Is, averaging 27.4 in his nine matches in 2022, though the last of those came in June.

 

Asked in a press conference if he would be changing his approach at the crease, Finch said: "I'll be looking to be more aggressive and take a few more risks upfront, but obviously balance that out with the normal process.

"You just have to go in really clear minded. I think the difference between T20s and ODIs is you're expected but you’re also prepared to take a decent amount of risk earlier in your innings.

"It's about being clear minded, working with what I know has worked well in the past and going back to basics in that regard of anything technical or set-up related."

Finch will not have a full-strength team to call on against India, with Mitchell Marsh, David Warner and Marcus Stoinis all left out, while Mitchell Starc is struggling with a minor injury.

As such, Finch is open to experimenting ahead of the tournament, with Steve Smith to bat at three and Tim David set for a debut.

"Every decision that we make has one eye towards the World Cup... so I think we'll be mindful of not being too narrow-minded," Finch said.

"Everything we're doing in the T20 space ties back into the World Cup and for us it's about making sure once we get there, we'll have plenty of different combinations for teams we want to play, because the last thing you want to do is have an injury derail your whole campaign because you're pigeon-holed into playing one style of cricket or one structure of team.

"There'll be a little bit of mixing and matching but with one eye towards the World Cup to make sure we're still as rounded as we can be as a squad."

Hazlewood to lead in-form Australia attack

With Starc injured, the onus will be on Josh Hazlewood to deliver for the tourists with the ball. The seamer has 46 wickets in T20Is, and if he gets four in Tuesday's game (his 31st T20I) to reach the 50 mark, will become the fourth fastest player to reach the milestone for Australia.

Australia's seam bowlers have registered a bowling strike rate of 15 in T20Is in 2022, the best such rate among all full-member sides.

 

Rahul, Kumar eyeing landmarks

KL Rahul was the subject of Rohit Sharma's press conference on Sunday, with the India captain insisting the opener would keep his place at the top of the order, though acknowledging Virat Kohli is an option for the role.

Rahul, who struck 62 against Afghanistan earlier this month, has defended his position, too, saying: "I am just working towards how I can better myself as an opening batter, and see how I can have the most impact for my team whenever I go out to play in the middle."

The 30-year-old is just 37 runs away from reaching 2,000 in T20Is, with only Rohit and Kohli having previously hit the milestone for India. Meanwhile, team-mate Bhuvneshwar Kumar (84) needs two more wickets to become the outright fifth-highest wicket-taker among seam bowlers in T20Is.

Aaron Finch has enjoyed a "fun ride" in his ODI career, after he announced his decision to step away from the 50-over format.

The 35-year-old played his 145th and final ODI for Australia on Sunday, and though he only managed five runs against New Zealand, his team nevertheless sealed a series whitewash in Cairns.

Finch's final 54 matches in the format came as captain, with the opener having revealed his decision to retire from ODIs prior to the match. He will, however, stay on as T20 captain ahead of Australia's defence of their world title next month.

His record in recent ODIs has been poor, with Finch becoming the first Australian to record five ducks in a calendar year in the format. In his final eight such matches, he managed just 31 runs.

Yet Finch was able to look back with pride at his long career.

"Pretty good, means I don't have to field 50 overs anymore," Finch quipped when asked how he was feeling.

"It's been a fun ride. I've loved every bit of it. Sitting around having a beer with your mates after winning a match or series is the thing I'll miss the most, but we'll enjoy tonight."

Finch added: "I want to thank everyone. The staff we've had, the captains I've had right from club cricket. All the players, it's such a special time.

"My wife and family, the support they've given me. My career has had plenty of ups and downs but to always have the support of the changing room is something I've felt my whole career."

While Finch was unable to go out with a flourish, Steve Smith – a potential replacement as ODI skipper – provided the bedrock for Australia to claim a 10th straight home ODI win over New Zealand.

Smith scored 105 from 131 deliveries, with support coming from Marnus Labuschagne (52) and Alex Carey (42), with the Black Caps falling short in the chase to lose by 25 runs.

Steve Smith score a brilliant century as Australia sent ODI captain Aaron Finch off in style with a 25-run win over New Zealand in the third and final match of their series.

Finch had announced prior to the game this would be his final ODI and, though he made just five in Cairns, team-mate Smith excelled, his 105 from 131 balls helping the hosts to 267-5 – Marnus Labuschagne (52) adding a valuable half-century as Australia sealed a series whitewash.

Several in New Zealand's line-up made starts but failed to build big totals, Glenn Phillips' middle-order partnerships with Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner not proving enough to make the chase.

Finch was given a guard of honour and a handshake with opposite number Kane Williamson after a minute's silence was held as a mark of respect following the death of the Queen.

Some textbook swing bowling from Tim Southee meant there was no dream send-off for Finch, but Smith, a contender to be the new ODI captain, led the way.

His century off 126 was the slowest of his career, though his second fifty runs came off only 46.

He and Labuschagne focused mostly on surviving, but Alex Carey (42) added 69 with Smith in 10 overs to boost the run rate, before the latter was bowled by Santner.

New Zealand made 49 for the opening wicket before Devon Conway was caught by Smith at backward point and the tourists struggled to score runs freely, tumbling to 112-5.

Phillips' work with Neesham and Santner made sure Australia had to push hard for their win but ultimately New Zealand fell short, Mitchell Starc finishing 3-60 to wrap up the series.

Spectacular Smith

It was not just Smith's work with the bat that proved so influential. He also made important catches from Conway, Mitchell and Neesham to knock New Zealand off their stride.

While Santner was able to keep the pace going, his dismissal and Phillips' exit brought an end to any hopes of a turnaround.

Finch farewell

After 145 ODI caps, Finch's illustrious spell in the format will come to an end but it was unfortunate he could not go out with a bang. The home supporters gave him the send-off he deserves, however, and he issued his backing to Smith to succeed him prior to Sunday's final match.

Finch departs having guided Australia to a 10th straight ODI win on home turf against New Zealand, a run that dates back to 2009. Indeed, they have now won their last five matches against their neighbours in the format (home or away), which matches a winning streak they enjoyed against the Black Caps between November 2006 and February 2007.

A big score for struggling New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is only just around the corner, insists head coach Gary Stead.

New Zealand have already lost their three-match ODI series in Australia going into Sunday's final encounter, with the hosts having won the first two contests.

Australia won an entertaining opener by two wickets before New Zealand were skittled for just 82 in a miserable second ODI for the Black Caps.

Williamson has been out of form for a while – his last international century was his incredible 238 in a Test match against Pakistan in January 2021, while he last hit three figures in white-ball cricket back in June 2019 in an ODI against West Indies.

Stead believes Williamson is being judged slightly unfairly, as his form was unsustainably good before he suffered an elbow injury, and is convinced the New Zealand skipper will soon get back to something close to his best.

"It's always difficult when you have had such a prolific run-scorer as what Kane has been," Stead said.

"I think what everyone remembers is immediately before his elbow injury, when he was in the richest vein of form that perhaps some players have ever been in.

"Kane is one of the hardest workers I have seen on his game and he continues to be.

"A big score is around the corner. Kane is a very, very consistent trainer. Regardless of if he is scoring runs or not, he appears to me to train the same way."

Australia have won their last four ODIs against New Zealand, their longest winning run since a five-game streak that concluded in 2007.

And a victory in the third ODI would give Australia a 10th straight home win against the Black Caps, with their current nine-match run at home already their best ever. 

New Zealand have not won an ODI in Australia since 2009, but amid the team's woe, Stead also backed Williamson's credentials as captain.

Williamson was criticised for taking Trent Boult out of the attack at a key stage in the first ODI and has faced questions over his future in the role, talk not helped by deputy Tom Latham's huge success in ODIs where the regular skipper has been missing.

Stead added: "You are always reflecting on how we go about it and what we might do differently. We all make mistakes from time to time.

"Who knows what's right anyway? That's the tough thing about the game of cricket. One decision you make will work one day and the next day it won't.

"You try to put odds in your favour at any given moment. If you go through and dissect every ball, you'll find something to talk about.

"That's the decision of the leaders who are out in the middle and we know as a matter of fact that the bowler can bowl only 10 overs.

"So it is up to Kane and the other guys who are out there to work out when is the right time and what looks right then."

Australia skipper Aaron Finch will be playing his last ODI on Sunday after announcing his retirement from the 50-over format.

Australia's one-day captain Aaron Finch announced on Friday that the next ODI against New Zealand will be his last before retiring from the 50-over format.

Finch, 35, will finish with 145 ODI matches and 54 as captain, but will continue to lead the T20 side. 

While his record is strong, boasting 5401 runs at an average of 39.42, he has struggled mightily lately as he became the first Australian to record five ODI ducks in a calendar year. In his past seven ODIs, he has 26 runs and three ducks.

Speaking to the media at his retirement press conference, Finch said now was the time to step away to allow a new leader to get acclimated ahead of the World Cup.

"It has been a fantastic ride with some incredible memories," he said. 

"I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of some brilliant one-day sides. Equally, I have been blessed by all those I have played with and the many people behind the scenes.

"It is time now to give a new leader the best possible opportunity to prepare for and win the next World Cup. I thank all of those who have helped and supported my journey to this point."

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley added: "On behalf of Australian Cricket, I would like to congratulate Aaron on his vast contribution as captain of the Australian Men’s ODI team and as a wonderful exponent of the 50-over format.

"Aaron is an enormously gifted and determined player whose outstanding deeds with the bat have been matched by his strong and inspiring leadership. His decision to step aside from the ODI captaincy now is typical of his selfless approach to the game.

"I'm delighted Aaron will lead the Australian team into the forthcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup where his leadership, experience and tactical nous will be integral to the defence of our T20 World Cup title on home soil."

Kane Williamson has no immediate desire to leave his role as New Zealand captain or the Black Caps' set-up, though he sees the appeal of big-money offers from elsewhere.

New Zealand face Australia in a three-match ODI series starting on Tuesday in Cairns, Queensland, looking to end a 13-year search for a 50-over win in the country.

They will do so without a key player in the form of Colin de Grandhomme, who last week announced his international retirement.

De Grandhomme's decision came after he had taken up an offer to play for the  Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League, which clashed with his New Zealand duties.

Trent Boult, the world's best ODI bowler who has taken 36 per cent of the Black Caps' wickets when he has played in the format in 2022, is another player who has been released from his New Zealand Cricket central contract.

Paceman Boult is included in the 15-man squad to face Aaron Finch's side, but this year's T20 World Cup might well prove the 33-year-old's swansong on the international stage.

 

Williamson himself is no stranger to playing in lucrative competitions such as the Indian Premier League, having featured for Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015.

However, the 32-year-old has no plans to call time on his New Zealand career as he aims to end a seven-match losing streak against Australia in the 50-over game.

"It's a tricky one because it is changing - so much seems to have happened so quickly," Williamson told reporters. "It does seem to be a movement in the landscape of the game.

"Every case is unique and every case has got their individual needs at different stages of their lives.

"There are a lot of different franchise events happening and seeing players make decisions on their playing careers, it suggests that there is a balance to strike and some things to work through.

"At the moment I'm very much here and looking to do my very best for the team. I love being involved in this environment."

The series is the first between the two rivals – who faced off in last year's T20 World Cup final – since the start of 2020, with only one match played on that occasion before New Zealand's team travelled home with borders closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is not set to be another bilateral ODI series between the nations for the next four years.

While they have not lost an ODI on home soil to New Zealand since 2009, Australia will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats at home for the first time since January 2019, following their shock three-wicket reverse at the hands of Zimbabwe last week, though they did at least win that series 2-1.

 

Finch's cause for concern

Australia's World Cup-winning captain is not in fine fettle. He scored just 21 runs across three innings against Zimbabwe and is going up against a fearsome bowling attack this time out.

Finch's record against New Zealand is nothing to shout about, either, with his 17.2 average from 10 ODIs the worst against any nation in the format. With the World Cup just around the corner, he will be desperate to hit his stride.

"Across his career, it's ebbed and flowed. His movement patterns sometimes early in his innings are compromised, whether that's through perceived pressure that he puts on himself or what the bowler does," head coach Andrew McDonald said of Finch's form. "We are working through it. He's working hard on his game."

Southee chasing a milestone

New Zealand have won nine of their 10 ODIs in 2022 (L1) – only Scotland (W12) and India (W11) have won more games this year.

In Boult and Southee, they have a brilliant bowling duo. The latter is three wickets away from becoming the fifth Black Cap to take 200 in the format, while if he achieves that in Tuesday's opener (his 147th ODI) he will be the second-quickest player to the landmark (after Kyle Mills – 135 matches).

Australia has named its 15-player squad for their upcoming T20 World Cup defence with uncapped all-rounder Tim David included as the major bolter.

The Australians will look to defend their T20 title in the tournament that runs from October 16 to November 13 in Australia and New Zealand.

Globetrotting T20 star David is the major surprise in the squad and the only change from last year's group that lifted the world title in UAE, replacing spinner Mitchell Swepson.

Australia's squad includes the usual suspects such as David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and vice-captain Pat Cummins. Mitch Marsh is selected despite a recent ankle concern.

Skipper Aaron Finch, 35, had been under some pressure to hold his spot but is named, with the group also to travel to face India in three T20 Internationals in September in preparation. Warner will be rested for the India tour with Cameron Green taking his place.

National Selection Panel chair of selectors George Bailey said: "This is a similar squad to that which became the first Australian’s men’s team to win a T20 World Cup who are now very excited about playing the tournament at home.

"Mitchell Swepson was unlucky to miss out based on conditions in the UAE at the last World Cup where we planned for tired, spinning wickets compared to what we would expect are good batting conditions along with the larger grounds in Australia.

"Tim continues to establish himself with some quality performances in leagues around the world, earning a place in the squad. He is a highly gifted, natural ball striker who will add extra batting depth to the group which has had a lot of success in T20 cricket.

"We expect him to play a similar role to that he has been playing in the past few years."

David, who previously represented the country of his birth Singapore in 14 T20Is in 2019 and 2020, has impressed in global T20 leagues including with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, the Southern Brave in The Hundred and the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League.

The 26-year-old has amassed 1,874 runs at a strike rate of 168.4 in 86 T20 games over the past two years in a late-overs batting role, with part-time off-breaks.

David's strike rate of 216.28 in eight matches with the Mumbai Indians earlier this year was the highest by any player to have faced at least 50 balls in a single IPL season.

Josh Philippe, Ben McDermott, Sean Abbott, Jhye Richardson and Swepson were among the unlucky players to miss out on selection.

Australia faces India in the first of their three T20Is on September 20 in Mohali, with their first World Cup match against New Zealand in Sydney on October 22.

Australia's T20 World Cup squad: Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Tim David, Aaron Finch (c), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner*, Adam Zampa. 

* Will be replaced by Cameron Green for three T20Is, September 20-26, in India

Glenn Maxwell was delighted to be able to keep his cool and smarts under pressure after guiding Australia to a two-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Tuesday's ODI with a Man of the Match knock.

Maxwell arrived at the crease at 189-5, requiring 113 off 84 deliveries in pursuit of chasing Sri Lanka's 300-7 in a rain-affected game in Kandy.

The Australian all-rounder bludgeoned a thrilling unbeaten 80 from 51 balls to guide the tourists home with nine balls to spare on D/L method.

Maxwell's knock included 12 boundaries, with six fours and six sixes, reaching his half-century from 35 balls, before accelerating to finish the job and take a 1-0 lead in the five-game ODI series.

"Certainly is [a satisfying knock], coming in when I did," Maxwell said after the game.

"There were a few wickets down and we were under a bit of pressure. To be able to hold together at the end and play, as [coach Andrew McDonald] Ronnie just said, one of my 'smarter innings,' is nice.

"And when conditions aren't as favourable for the batting side, that was really pleasing."

Maxwell's innings came amid pressure from Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasarange who claimed 4-58 including the wickets of Alex Carey and Pat Cummins with Maxwell down the other end.

"I was just trying to stay out there as long as I could," said Maxwell, who took 15 runs off Maheesh Theekshana in the 37th over to lower the run rate required below six.

"I knew I was going to get balls to score off in my areas at some stage, and I was just trying to take risks at the right time.

"I think when the left arm spinner came back on, I think there was only three overs left, I think that was a good opportunity to try and get the run rate down under six, and then try and do it in the next over without letting it get to the last over because all sorts of chaos could happen in the last."

Australia skipper Aaron Finch praised Maxwell for his decisive knock.

"That innings by Maxwell, that was pure class," Finch said. "Showed a lot of skill, lot of game smarts as well. Fantastic chase.

"We were always one wicket behind where we would have liked to have been. We were always two or three down, when we would have liked to have been able to build a partnership but that was an extraordinary innings from Maxwell."

Dasun Shanaka is confident Sri Lanka can claim a shock win over world champions Australia in a T20 International series that starts in Colomba on Tuesday.

The visitors previously beat their hosts 4-1 in a five-match series in February on home soil after winning the T20 World Cup for the first time in Dubai.

Aaron Finch's side have since won a one-off match in Pakistan despite being without a whole host of players.

They are close to full strength for the start of the three-match series, with Finch and Marcus Stoinis the only players who featured in that win in Lahore who have named in the team for the opener at the R.Premadasa Stadium.

Yet Sri Lanka captain Shanaka believes his side can make the most of the conditions on the back of a triumph for the Test side against Bangladesh in such tough times due to a financial crisis in the country.

He said: "We gained much playing Australia in their own backyard last time out and I'm confident that we are well geared in the batting and bowling to get the better of them with our home conditions in our favour."

Shanaka added: "Lots of our players have benefited by playing in the recent IPL and that experience would be a leading edge to maximising their potential when Sri Lanka locks horns with the Australians strong as they are.

"A positive factor for our players at the IPL is that they have gained the opportunity of flexing their muscles in gay abandon, unlike back home where the domestic season has been plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in several players being laid down, while the adverse weather has been a negating factor as well."

Sri Lanka have named uncapped duo Nuwanidu Fernando, a top-order batter, and Matheesha Pathirana, a right-arm seamer, in their squad early in a new era under head coach Chris Silverwood.

The tourists are without Pat Cummins (rested) and Adam Zampa (parental leave), while Michael Di Venuto is filling in at the start of the series after head coach Andrew McDonald was forced into isolation back home following a positive COVID-19 test.

 

Finch in the spotlight

Australia captain Finch endured a frustrating Indian Premier League, scoring only 86 runs in five innings for Kolkata Knight Riders.

The opener did make 55 in his last game for his country, the T20I success over Pakistan, and the tourists will be looking for him to set the tone at the top of the order with the T20 World Cup on home soil fast approaching.

Hasaranga key for Sri Lanka

If Sri Lanka are to pull off an upset, Wanindu Hasaranga will surely have a big part to play after an excellent IPL for the spinner.

The tweaker was the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament behind with 26 at an average of 17.65 for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Maheesh Theekshana can also trouble the tourists as they face a trial by spin.

Aaron Finch's half-century and Ben McDermott's composure proved to be decisive as Australia defeated Pakistan by three wickets in Tuesday's thrilling one-off T20I.

Pakistan won the ODI series thanks in large part to the brilliance of captain Babar Azam and his superb 66 propelled the hosts to a competitive 162-8 in Lahore.

Babar's composure at the crease was much-needed for Pakistan, who lost Mohammad Rizwan (23) and Fakhar Zaman (0) in successive balls to T20I debutant Cameron Green (2-16).

Adam Zampa finally drew a stray shot out of Pakistan's skipper, who picked out Nathan Ellis to leave his side on 118-4.

Having already dismissed Iftikhar Ahmed, Ellis – the pick of Australia's bowlers with 4-28 – then did the damage through Pakistan's middle order, getting rid of the dangerous Khushdil Shah (24), Asif Ali (3) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (0), though Usman Qadir's flurry of 18 not out boosted the hosts.

Travis Head quickly set about getting the tourists' chase on its way, scoring a rapid 26 that included four boundaries before he was sent packing by Haris Rauf.

Josh Inglis (24) kept up the pace until Qadir struck, but Australia seemed well set before Marnus Labuschagne, Marcus Stoinis and Green were dismissed in the space of 20 balls.

Yet captain Finch anchored the chase as he returned to form following back-to-back ducks in the ODI series, with his steady innings steering Australia into needing 15 runs from three overs.

A costly start to the 18th over from Haris saw McDermott plunder successive boundaries, though the pressure was back on Australia when Finch found Asif in the deep.

Afridi (2-21) rounded off an excellent spell by bowling Sean Abbott for a duck, yet another poor Haris ball handed McDermott the chance to clip away the winning boundary.

Captains come up big

Babar gave yet another exhibition of how he has risen to the top of the batting rankings in another sensational knock - his 66 coming at a strike rate of 143.47.

Yet it was World Cup winner Finch who took the trophy, as he showed plenty of patience to stay at the crease for 18 overs, showing why interim head coach Andrew McDonald backed him to stay on as skipper.

Historic tour comes to a close

It has been a brilliant match-up between Pakistan and Australia over the last month or so and the tourists will finally return home.

Australia have now won each of their past four T20Is against Pakistan, the first time they have gone on such a run, though this was the first meeting in the format between the teams in Pakistan.

Andrew McDonald has backed out-of-form captain Aaron Finch to lead Australia in the T20 World Cup this year ahead of a one-off match against Pakistan at Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.

Opener Finch was dismissed without scoring in the second and third ODIs as the tourists suffered a 2-1 loss to a Babar Azam-inspired Pakistan side last week.

The skipper has not scored an international half-century since last July, but Australia interim head coach McDonald says he remains the man to lead his country when they attempt to defend their T20 World Cup title on home soil.

"From my end, there's no conversation around the [prospect] that he won't be there," said McDonald.

"His form can ebb and flow – like most players' can – and his ability to work through these patches has been significant in his career.

"We had the same conversation about David Warner leading into the T20 World Cup last [year], so all these conversations are going to happen.

"Do we think he's still good enough to play this level? One hundred per cent yes. That's as simple as it gets for us and we're building a team around him as captain.

"It's a pretty significant pillar to be discussing about not being at the T20 World Cup. From our end, we think he can still play at this level, 100 per cent."

Finch will be one of only three players who are set to face Pakistan in Lahore that were part of the side that won the World Cup in Dubai last November.

Australia will be looking for a fourth consecutive T20 win over Pakistan, but they will have their work cut out as the hosts have come out on top in 10 of their past 11 home matches in the shortest format.

Babar a class apart

Captain Babar made back-to-back centuries to give Pakistan a first ODI series win over Australia for 20 years.

The irrepressible skipper has made a staggering three hundreds, as many half-centuries and 36 in his past five knocks for his country - demonstrating his class in all formats.

As the top-ranked player in the world in both white-ball formats, Australia must find a way to remove Babar before he is set.

McDermott and Head vying for opening spot

Either Ben McDermott or Travis Head look set to open with Finch in the only T20 match before Australia head home.

There was good news for the tourists when Ashton Agar and Josh Inglis returned negative COVID-19 tests, while Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green are in contention to make their T20I debuts.

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