Ed Hawkins previews the first of three T20s, starting in Adelaide from Sunday. Is it a mismatch?
"Maxwell is their best batter in the format and should be given every opportunity to bat as many overs as possible. He is likely to go in two down"
Australia v Sri Lanka
Sunday 27 October, 04:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Australia bring back Smith
This is the home return for David Warner and Steve Smith following their ball-tampering ban. It is probable that they will get a warm reception. The diehards have short memories. So short, in fact, that Smith comes back as a Twenty20 player of note.
There's not a huge amount of evidence that Smith is a pick in this format. And plenty that suggests he isn't, like CricViz's chart which shows there are 22 Aussie players who have a greater impact with the bat in the last two years. Smith hasn't actually played a T20 for almost four years. His selection for The Hundred is equally as strange, not least because of his top price tag.
Warner will open. But alongside Aaron Finch? The skipper is struggling with a side strain. Alex Carey, the wicketkeeper, is expected to lead. Carey could also open the batting with Ben McDermott another possible. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins should be paired with the new ball. One from Kane Richardson, AJ Tye and Billy Stanlake should join them.
Sri Lanka ring changes
Sri Lanka are buzzing after an extraordinary 3-0 hammering of the world No 1-rated team, Pakistan. The reward? To bring back the established players who were allowed to skip it.
How that bodes for team bonding remains to be seen. Lasith Malinga, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dick-wella and Kusal Mendis are quality players but they were hardly inspiring when available. Before Pakistan, Sri Lanka had won one in eight. There is a reason ICC rate them seventh in the world.
Batters Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Oshada Fernando, who were superb in Pakistan, are retained. Wanindu Hasaranga, also known as PWH de Silva, claimed eight wickets with his legspin and it will be exciting to see how the 22-year-old goes. Nuwan Pradeep and Dasun Shanaka have also been in potent touch with the ball.
Eight an over the target
There have only been four T20 internationals played at the Adelaide Oval, the last of which in 2017 when Australia beat Sri Lanka by 41 runs. In Big Bash, the average score is 153 and there is no discernible toss bias. The average to score to win (batting first) is 165 so eight an over, or just a little more, is the target.
Little match odds appeal
Australia have never won the World T20 and this series begins their preparation to put that right. The choice of Smith, who will bat at No 3, suggests they have a lot to learn.
Smith is a fantastic Test player and in ODI he has the ability to marshall an innings, but a strike rate of 124 is not enough for that slot. Until they learn to throw caution to the wind and pick gun hitters in there - Chris Lynn or D'Arcy Short - then they could come up short.
Of course, Glenn Maxwell, who has been superb while Smith has been absent, should bat at No 3. He is their best batter in the format and should be given every opportunity to bat as many overs as possible. He is likely to go in two down.
Coach Justin Langer will try to invoke the spirit, skills and smarts of the great Perth Scorchers team. He could pull it off. However, until there is evidence that they have improved on a record of six defeats in the last ten, we will be avoiding prices as skinny as 1/5.
Sri Lanka are not a blind value bet, though. We're worried about whether the switch in personnel will upset them so a trade is more likely. We can see them coming shorter. Sportsbook prices may not be reflected on the exchanges but we will take a chance on and in-and-out from 3.55/2. For advice on 'back-to-lay' strategy, check out Betfair's how-to article.
To the Max
Warner has zero wins on top bat in his last five and has made double figures five times in 13. Not surprisingly Finch is 13/5 jolly with Sportsbook with Warner shunted down to second spot at 11/4. Smith is 16/5 and Maxwell (cough) is whopping at 6s. That will be a bet all summer. For Sri Lanka, Dickwella looks underrated at 9/2 while Rajapaksa and Fernando gets 4s quotes.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l