It was perfect conditions on Tuesday night at Manuka Oval in Canberra, and the Australian’s took full advantage despite making three changes to their line-up.
With Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa being rested for the third T20 match against Sri Lanka, Allan Border Medalist, Mitch Starc returned alongside reliable left-arm spinner, Ashton Agar.
Steve Smith was forced out of the side after suffering a concussion in the 2nd match at the SCG, his replacement raising eyebrows.
Sydney Thunder fast bowler, Daniel Sams returned to the Australian setup, two days after Sams was snapped up in the IPL Auction by the Mumbai Indians.
The thinking behind the decision to bring Sams into the line-up proved to be effective, as the Australian bowlers displayed balance as a group, keeping Sri Lanka to just 121 runs in the first innings.
Kane Richardson profited most of the bowlers, collecting three wickets in his four overs at a cost of only 21 runs.
Richardson was recently overlooked in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction and Tuesday’s performance may have left buyers wondering if they’d missed a trick.Embed from Getty Images
An incredible shake-up in Australia’s batting order saw Ashton Agar open the batting, the same player who scored 99 batting at number 11 on test debut in the 2013 Ashes series.
Skipper, Aaron Finch, was hoping to wait longer than just one ball to have to come to the crease after moving himself to number three, that wasn’t the case.
Ben McDermott, facing the first ball, was dismissed for a golden duck, throwing a spanner into the Australian plans.
Agar looked comfortable in his new role, scoring a couple of boundaries, including a six, before finding himself on the wrong side of an LBW dismissal after making 13 runs.
The Finch and Glen Maxwell partnership made the chase very comfortable for the hosts, clocking up 50 runs before Maxwell became Maheesh Theekshana’s third wicket.
Finch was able to hold up one end and rotated the strike well with Josh Inglis, putting Australia within 20 runs with just under four overs spare.
Marcus Stoinis picked up with winning runs with Inglis at the other end, Australia winning by six wickets in the end.Embed from Getty Images
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After being named player of the match, Kane Richardson spoke about his IPL snubbing.
“I wouldn’t be disappointed, anytime you get picked up is great but I also tend to like getting away from the game for a bit, especially at the end of the summer,” he said.
“Would have been nice to go, but there’s always other things to do in Australia to keep preparing for the World Cup coming up, which is really the end goal more so than the IPL.”
For Richardson and his Australian and former IPL teammate, Adam Zampa, leaving the competition prematurely last IPL season could prove reasoning towards not being picked up.
“Look, to be very honest, when we left last year, in the circumstances, early, I remember having the conversation with him, I said to him (Zampa), ‘look, this may come back and bite us’ and at that time it wasn’t a priority for us to be there.
“We wanted to get back to Australia so I think there would be some buyers that’d be pretty wary of picking us up thinking that we wouldn’t come again. I definitely think that’s a factor.”Embed from Getty Images
Instead, Richardson can now put his focus into playing a stronger role in the upcoming World Cup.
“It’s about doing enough to stay around this group like taking my personal want to play,” Richardson stated.
“Obviously I want to play every game, but just to be around this team on the back of the World Cup that we had, not playing, but having so much fun being around a group that’s playing as well as this. That’s basically my goal, to do enough to just stay in the mix.
“Personally, whenever I play or train, I’m just trying to do enough to keep getting better and make selection as hard as I can on those guys in your name.
“They’re obviously bigger names (Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, and Josh Hazlewood) and they’re bowling super well, so to just do enough to keep getting better and put my name up for selection if anything happens to those guys.”
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