A clinical bowling effort followed by Alex Carey’s unbeaten 45 helped Australia register a consolation four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the fifth and final ODI at R. Premadasa Stadium, here on Friday.
The win couldn’t rescue the series for Australia, but regained some pride, with the ODI series ending 3-2 in favour of Sri Lanka.
After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, Sri Lanka were off to a poor start as Josh Hazelwood was quick to dismiss both the Sri Lankan openers. The pacer first removed Pathum Nissanka (2) in the third over and then claimed Danushka Gunathilaka’s wicket (8) in his very next over.
Dinesh Chandimal soon followed the openers to the pavilion, reducing Sri Lanka to 34/3. Sri Lankan batters Charith Asalanaka and Kusal Mendis then tried to steady the ship, but a miscommunication between the batters saw Aslanaka (14) run out. One brought two for Australia when Mendis was out hit-wicket on 26 off the very next ball.
After sending back half of the side to the pavilion at the score of 56, Australia’s spinners kept the batters in check during the middle overs. Matthew Kunnehman dismissed both skipper Dasun Shanaka and Dunith Wellalage in the same over to pile on the hosts’ misery.
However, Chamika Karunaratne fought valiantly with a knock of 75 and stitched together a 58-run ninth-wicket partnership with debutant Pramod Madushan. The lower-order resistance helped Sri Lanka recover and finish their innings at 160.
In reply, defending the small total, Sri Lankan spinners got the team off to a great start. Skipper Shanaka deployed his spin trio as early as the second over of the innings and the plan worked, as Maheesh Theekshana dismissed Aaron Finch for a duck. In the following over, young left-arm spinner Wellalage dismissed David Warner (10), who had started with a couple of boundaries in the first over.
Theekshana with his tight lines continued to trouble the batters and dismissed Josh Inglish on 5 to reduce Australia to 19/3. A fine debut for Madushan continued when he took the wicket of Mitchell Marsh for 24.
Wellalage gave Sri Lanka hope of producing a stunning win when he bagged the scalps of both Marnus Labuschagne (31) and Glenn Maxwell (16), the latter with a ripsnorter of a turn that cleaned Maxwell up.
However, Alex Carey and Cameron Green kept their composure with a 43-run partnership that saw Australia cross the line. Carey top-scored in the innings with a solid 45 not out, with Green finishing the job with his side’s first maximum to end on 25 not out.
(Inputs from IANS)