Can Sri Lanka win it for Tillakaratne Dilshan?© AFP
Can Sri Lanka win it for Tillakaratne Dilshan?© AFP

A huge defeat by 85 runs in the first T20I at Pallekele courtesy ‘Mad-Max Fury’ has left Sri Lanka with the only chance to the level their two-T20I series against Australia. Any thoughts they had of making a comeback in the T20I series after a 4-1 embarrassing ODI loss were spoiled by Glenn Maxwell‘s unbeaten 145 off 65 balls. Now Dinesh Chandimal and his men will have put the loss behind them and change a few plans. If the bowlers were sent to all corners of the park, some of their batsmen not reaching double-figures did not help either. With just one more match left now to end what has been a fantastic saga, full of ups and downs for both the teams, the Sri Lankans would want to end it with smiles on their faces. And here is what their team could look like. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs Australia 2nd T20I at Colombo

Top order: Sri Lanka’s top order failed miserably in the first T20I. While they should have taken the team off to a flyer and laid the foundation for what would have been an epic run chase, they were rattled by Mitchell Starc and co. Playing in his last T20I, Tillakaratne Dilshan would surely want to end things on a high. It has been time since he produced a match-winning knock. If he can fire at the top, execute well, Sri Lanka would look like a dangerous team. Kusal Perera too, has not had a good season at home. In the last T20I, he would want to at least help the team’s cause. And Dhananjaya de Silva too, while he could not score many and also dropped a sitter on his birthday (last T20I), he would want to end the T20I season on a promising note. READ: Sri Lanka vs Australia 2nd T20I, Preview & Predictions: Visitors hope for another Maxwell-show

Middle Order: Earlier Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara used to score majority of the runs, and now the onus has come on the shoulders of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews. In Mathew’s absence due to injury, Kusal Mendis and Chamara Kapugedera will have to fill in those shoes. Thisara Perera has to play with responsibility and contribute with a quick cameo or something like that. READ: Sri Lanka vs Australia, 2nd T20I: Lankans’ chance for limited-overs glory

Lower Order and Bowling: None of the last four batsmen in Sri Lanka’s batting order could cross single-digits in the first T20I. This does hurt a team’s ambitions. In times, when the game is advancing at a rapid pace, teams have realised that, tail-enders need to contribute to the team’s batting plans as well, be it any format. Therefore, Sri Lanka’s lower-order needs to add those extra valuable runs.

Sri Lanka’s bowling, was as poor as it could get. Despite comprising of spinners who can be effective on dry pitches, the hosts have struggled to make home advantage count. Almost all bowlers Chandimal used, apart from de Silva, who bowled just one over, conceded near 50 runs or more. Economy rates in excess of 11 did not look nice either. They let Australia score the highest T20I score in history and that is enough to prove that they were shambolic.

While Kasun Rajitha might be replaced by Dasun Shanaka who has been very promising in his short career so far, Seekkuge Prasanna, the leg-spinner too could be brought in. Probably, one of Sachithra Senanayake or Sachith Pathirana might be left out to bring Prasanna in.

Senanayake though, was also fined for breaching ICC Code of Conduct. He made remarks after dismissing Australia’s captain David Warner which the ICC felt could have provoked a reaction from the batsman. Senanayake did admit the offence and accept the sanction proposed by match referee Javagal Srinath.

Meanwhile, the Australian camp will be looking to add to their limited-overs glory by winning the series, 2-0. Warner has done an impressive job as a captain and he would be itching to make win this series as well, to heal the wounds of the humiliating Test series whitewash that Australia were given. With Maxwell back among runs,Sri Lanka will have to beware. Another concern for the home side will also be to play Australia’s pace attack well.

James Faulkner is adept at the art of bowling slower deliveries, he is known for his change of pace. Sri Lanka by now have realised Starc’s strengths. And Scott Boland too, can chip away with wickets. The hosts therefore, will have to have a few plans, which would then need to be executed well. In T20s it gets very difficult to go according to plans. They will have to make sure they stick to it and hope luck goes their way as well.

A major concern for Chandimal and co. was their pathetic fielding in the last T20I. At Colombo they will look to make amends. Sri Lanka dropped sitters, misfielded a few and failed to grab half-chances. Yes, Kapugedera’s chance to catch Maxwell near the boundary line was tough, but in international cricket those chances cannot be given away. There were plenty of catches dropped, as the Australians swung their bat at anything and everything. The fielding therefore, needs to step up, for it might lift the spirits of the team and script an important series leveling win for them.

This game will also mark an end to what has been a fine cricketing career for Dilshan. This will be his 80th T20I and he has managed to 1,888 runs so far at an average of 28.60. The right-hander will finish his career second on the list of most T20 appearances only behind Shahid Afridi. He will also be end at second on the list of most runs only behind Brendon McCullum. Dilshan also has a hundred to his name as well, in T20Is. But will he sign off with another special for the Sri Lankan fans, which is the question.

Sri Lanka Likely XI: Kusal Perera (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal(c), Kusal Mendis, Thisara Perera, Chamara Kapugedera, Dasun Shanaka, Seekkuge Prasanna, Sachith Pathirana, Suranga Lakmal

(Karan Dewan, a reporter with CricketCountry, loves following and playing sports. He is a Team India fan and loves winning. Follow him on his twitter handle @karan13dewan)