Aussies stick with Smith for T20 opener

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Australia are sticking with Steve Smith in the middle order as Josh Inglis is the unlucky batter to drop out for the first Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Captain Aaron Finch has confirmed the Australian XI for Tuesday night's series opener at Colombo's R. Premadasa Stadium.

Inglis fired during five T20Is against Sri Lanka in February, as Smith struggled during the first two games before sitting out the last three with concussion.

The West Australian's rise led to speculation Smith's time in the shortest format at international level might be coming to an end.

The 33-year-old has not scored a T20I 50 since 2019, averaging just 23 last year.

But Finch believes the Test star still offers plenty at T20 level ahead of Australia's World Cup title defence on home soil in October.

"The ability to free (Smith) up and play his natural game and play the game in front of him is so important," Finch said.

"He's someone who can read the game as well as anyone, so it's about giving him the freedom to take the game on.

"We've got all the confidence that he can play that role unbelievably well."

Inglis averages 35.8 after six T20Is and is yet to post a score under 20.

The 27-year-old keeps for WA but veteran Matthew Wade retains his position behind the stumps ahead of a likely international swansong later this year.

"(Inglis is) really stiff," Finch said.

"Every chance he's had he's taken with both hands and he's a super talented young player.

"He's shown his ability to float throughout the order in international and domestic cricket.

"He'll definitely get an opportunity at some point with the quick back-ups of the three T20s and the five ODIs being very congested."

But bowling allrounder Ashton Agar, the hard luck story of Australia's breakthrough win at last year's World Cup, will take charge as the lead spinner in expected turning conditions.

Runs could be hard to come by in Colombo, with the tourists encountering a wet outfield when they trained.

"I reckon there will be quite a lot of sun in the next 24 hours so hopefully that can dry out," Finch said.

"It will definitely be on the slower side compared to what we're used to. This will be a little bit more of a running game.

"It will just come down to using our smarts, using our ability to manipulate the ball into gaps and run hard."

AUSTRALIA: Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Josh Hazlewood.

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