Australia and Sri Lanka kick-off a three-match T20I series Down Under at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday. Aaron Finch leads a second-string team that is without their key players - Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, all of whom are playing a tour game in Mumbai ahead of their four-match Test series in India.
The spotlight though is on Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga, who is making a return to international cricket after almost a year-long injury layoff. Also, the visitors will be led by stand-in skipper Upul Tharanga, who has replaced the injured Angelo Mathews.
Tharanga should take heart from the fact that Sri Lanka have beaten Australia all the three times they have played against Australia Down Under. Also, despite playing the Big Bash League (BBL), Australian players have not played any international T20 game since September 2016, in which they defeated Sri Lanka 2-0 on the road.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka are heading into the series on the back of a 2-1 series win against South Africa, clinching the decider in Cape Town last month. Openers Niroshan Dickwella and skipper Tharanga have been in good form recently and would want to continue scoring runs in the upcoming series.
While spinners Seekkuge Prasanna and Isuru Udana can pose a big threat at the MCG, Malinga, who is among the best in T20 cricket, will be the danger man. Also 25-year-old Vikum Sanjaya, who picked three wickets against Prime Minister's XI on Wednesday, will be hoping to combine with the former and continue to impress.
Meanwhile, Finch also has a strong unit under him despite the absence of superstars. James Faulkner, Ben Dunk, Moises Henriques and debutant Michael Klinger, all of whom impressed in the recently-concluded BBL, will be hoping to play their part in helping their team start the series on a high.
Possible XI: Finch (c), Klinger, Dunk, Head, Henriques, Paine (wk), Turner, Faulkner, Cummins, Zampa, Tye
Possible XI: Tharanga (c), Dickwella (wk), Munaweera, Gunaratne, Siriwardana, Kapugedara, Prasanna, Kulasekara, Udana, Sanjaya, Malinga
Australia: Channel Nine
Singapore: Star Cricket
Malaysia: Astro Cricket
India: Star Sports
US: Willow TV
Middle East: OSN Sports