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Ponting taps into IPL knowledge

Aussie assistant coach offers batsmen tips on how to handle the Malinga threat

Former Test captain Ricky Ponting is delving into his own first-hand experience of coaching Lasith Malinga to ensure the Australian T20 squad can combat the Sri Lanka superstar in Friday's first Twenty20 International at the MCG.

Malinga made an emphatic return to cricket on Wednesday after almost a year out of the game in Sri Lanka's sole warm-up match against the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra.

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He took just four balls to find his groove, uprooting D'Arcy Short's middle stump in the very first over with a searing inswinging yorker.

He took 1-26 from his four overs on Wednesday night, prompting PM's XI skipper Adam Voges to declare: "He's still got it".

However, Ponting, who is assistant coach under Justin Langer in this series, is confident the Australia squad that will meet the Sri Lankans in Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide – a group that is without the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner, who are in India with Australia's Test squad – can get the better of Malinga.

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Better yet, he's making sure of it, drawing on his own experiences from coaching the Sri Lanka veteran at Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

"I've seen that up close and personal the last few years when I coached him at Mumbai," Ponting told cricket.com.au.

"He's one of the all-time greats of T20 and one-day cricket as well.

"We've just had a team meeting with the batters and we've talked about what he can do with the new ball as well as the old ball, so hopefully the boys can play him well in the next three games.

"It's not like these players haven't faced yorkers before, they just have to expect that it's going to be a yorker and it's going to be on the base of the stumps.

"It's all about trying to protect the stumps.

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"You know he's going to attack the stumps every ball with the new ball and he gets a little bit of late swing.

"But for the right-handers at the top of the order, if they look to protect their stumps and not over attack him, just wait for his bad ball, then I think we'll have a bit of success."

Malinga, 33, withdrew from last year's T20 World Cup and IPL with knee soreness and was set to make a comeback in the recent limited-overs series against South Africa until a bout of dengue fever put the brakes on his return.

And after his performance in Sri Lanka's five-wicket win over the PM's XI, Voges tipped his performances to be make-or-break for the tourists.

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"But he hit his yorker well, he swung the ball early and he took wickets," Voges said.

"He's going to be the key for Sri Lanka in this series.

"If he can take early wickets and bowl the way he did tonight at the death, the Aussies guys are going to find it tough.

"But if they find a way nullify him and score off him, it could go a long way towards deciding the series."