October 24, 2019 / 7:13 AM / a month ago

Australia look to make statement a year ahead of T20 World Cup

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - With the T20 World Cup the only piece of major silverware missing in Australia’s bursting trophy cabinet, Aaron Finch’s team will look to make a statement in the series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan a year before hosting the global tournament.

Cricket - Australia Nets - Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 10, 2019 Australia's Tim Paine, Mitchell Marsh and Peter Siddle during nets Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Australia kick off their home summer at Adelaide Oval on Sunday with the first of three Twenty20 internationals against 2014 world champions Sri Lanka, with matches to follow in Brisbane (Oct. 30) and Melbourne (Nov. 1).

The hosts then turn their attention to the 2009 champions Pakistan in another three-match series starting in Sydney on Nov. 3.

The series will give the teams a preview of playing conditions ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia and a chance for new players to push their credentials.

Australia fast bowler Kane Richardson will be among the fringe players looking to impress in front of his home-town crowd in Adelaide on Sunday.

“I don’t think there has been so much T20 in a calendar year with a lead-up to the (one-day) World Cup and another one close by,” 28-year-old Richardson told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.

“I am ready to go.”

Richardson, who played the last of his nine T20Is against England over a year ago, is competing against Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Billy Stanlake and Andrew Tye for one of the fast bowling slots.

The series will give locals the first glimpse of former captain Steve Smith and David Warner playing a full international on home pitches since their ball-tampering bans.

Smith, fresh from a brilliant Ashes with the bat in England, is set for his first T20I in three-and-a-half years, while the hard-hitting Warner will pad up for his first since February, 2018, a month before the Newlands scandal erupted.

The world’s top-ranked batsman in tests, Smith shelved T20Is in 2016 to ease his load but was busy during his 12-month international ban playing the shortest format in overseas competitions.

“Hopefully I can get the tempo of the game straight away and have a good few weeks with the Australian team,” he said earlier this week.

Opener Warner will also have something to prove in the wake of a miserable Ashes where he averaged 9.50 with the bat in the drawn series.

However, his Ashes struggles came after his stellar form in T20 cricket at the Indian Premier League and during Australia’s semi-finals run at the 50-over World Cup in England.

Cricket - Australia Nets - Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 11, 2019 Australia head coach Justin Langer during nets Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

He will look to build confidence with runs in the T20Is before next month’s two-match test series against Pakistan starts in Brisbane.

“Obviously it’s the first time in my career I have been under a bit of pressure and I hadn’t scored runs,” Warner told broadcaster Fox Sports’ season launch on Thursday.

“I play all three formats and I have to put my best foot forward to what I do.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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