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The first of a five-match T20I series between Australia and Sri Lanka will commence on Friday. Australia, the World Cup champions, will make their first appearance in the format since being declared world champions. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is seeking to make a stride forward in this format and establish itself as one of the world's top teams after a time of relative obscurity.

Australia will try to move on from the controversies surrounding coach Justin Langer's exit. The former coach was always going to miss the five-match series, opting for a break following a long road trip that saw him lead Australia to the T20 World Cup title and a 4-0 Ashes Test thrashing of England. But his unexpected departure last weekend, following failed contract extension talks with Cricket Australia, has placed a pall over the opening match in Sydney.

Sri Lanka hasn't played a T20 since last year's World Cup, although their campaign was not nearly as spectacular. They smashed Namibia, Ireland, and the Netherlands in the preliminary rounds, bowling the Dutch out for only 44 runs, but they couldn't match that against the major guns. They only managed to win against the West Indies and Bangladesh, finishing fourth in their group and falling well short of qualifying for the semifinals.

Will the controversy and surrounding noise prove too much for the Australian camps? Or will Sri Lanka finally rise from the ashes with a statement win tomorrow?

Match Toss Time: 18:40 Local (13:10 IST)

Match Start Time: 19:10 Local (13:40 IST)

Match Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney

Head to Head

Matches Played: 17, AUS: 9, SL: 8

Weather Conditions and pitch

With precipitation close to 90%, the conditions are not ideal for the sport. It is certain that we are looking at a curtailed match. The temperature is expected to be hovering in 23-19 degrees and the humidity at the peak is expected to touch the 76% mark.

The pitch in Sydney as we know is ideal for batting and the last T20I match played here was more than a year back, between India and Australia. It was a high-scoring encounter and we expect this to be the same. Ideally in Sydney, one would say win the toss and bat first, however, given the weather and the DL method coming into play, batting second would be the wise decision.

Team News

Andrew McDonald takes control of the squad missing two key players in the form of David Warner and Mitchell Marsh. Ben McDermott, the highest run-scorer in the Big Bash League, will open opposite Aaron Finch. The 26-year old Josh Inglis will make his debut at number three which was confirmed by captain Finch on Thursday.

The return of the world's number one T20 bowler, leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the last one-day series against Zimbabwe due to injury, has boosted the Dasun Shanaka-led Sri Lanka. The pace attack is led by Dushmantha Chameera, although they are without an opener and former wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis, who tested positive for Covid-19 this week and is currently in isolation.

Probable Playing XI

Australia (AUS): Aaron Finch (C), Ben McDermott, Josh Inglis, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis,  Matthew Wade (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood

Sri Lanka (SL): Pathum Nissanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Charith Asalanka, Avishka Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Dasun Shanaka (capt), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando, Mahesh Theekshana

Must-Picks

Gleen Maxwell has performed with bat and bowl for the team, particularly his explosive strength has the potential to determine matches. Opening Batsman Aaron Finch also too has been amongst the runs

Wanindu Hasaranga is a spin wizard and is expected to trouble the Australian batsman. Scoring of his over will be a tough proposition for the opposition.

Aus v SL fantasy team

Matthew Wade, Steve Smith, Aaron Finch, Avishka Fernando, C. Asalanka, Glenn Maxwell, Wanindu Hasranga, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, D Chameera, Adam Zampa

Captain and Vice-Captain picks

Captain picks: Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott

Vice-captain picks: Wanindu Hasaranga, Marcus Stoinis

Prediction

The hosts have a clear advantage due to their superior talent and experience. The reigning world champions will be expected to take advantage of their home conditions and outplay this young Sri Lankan side. Cricwizz predicts a win for Australia.

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