by Rex Clementine
A nation facing its worst economic crisis and high inflation for months had finally something to smile about as Sri Lanka sealed a come from behind series win over Australia at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday.
Having set Australia a target of 259, the hosts bowled out the tourists for 254 to complete a four run win and clinch the five match series 3-1 with a game to spare. Friday’s final ODI will be a dead rubber.
Australia were on course for the target and had the required run rate under control as David Warner and Travis Head added 58 runs for the fifth wicket. Part-timer Dhananjaya de Silva then removed both batsmen in successive overs to put Sri Lanka back in the hunt.
Head was bowled for 27 by de Silva and in the next over Maheesh Theekshana trapped danger man Glenn Maxwell leg before wicket for one as de Silva came back for his final over and delivered the killer punch when he had Warner smartly stumped by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella as Australia lost three wickets for the addition of three runs in the space of eight deliveries.
Warner was unlucky to be dismissed for 99 missing out on his 19th ODI hundred. The opening batsman now has not scored an international hundred for more than two years across all formats.
There was some resistance from the lower order with Pat Cummins (35) putting up some fight and then Matthew Kuhnemann keeping Australia’s chances alive until the last delivery. Australia needed 19 off the last over bowled by skipper Dasun Shanaka. Kuhnemann then hit three boundaries and Australia required five runs off the last ball. He was deceived by a slower delivery hitting it straight up in the air and Charith Asalanka completed the catch at covers.
De Silva finished with two for 39 in his ten overs to back up his half-century during the Sri Lankan innings. The middle order batsman scored 60 off 61 deliveries with seven fours and was spectacularly caught by Glenn Maxwell. De Silva had added 101 runs for the fourth wicket with Charith Asalanka before Maxwell pulled off the terrific one-handed catch at mid-wicket to break the partnership.
Asalanka was the hero for Sri Lanka with the bat posting a maiden hundred. He had joined de Silva with the side in a spot of bother at 34 for three. The pair rescued the innings and then after de Silva’s dismissal, Asalanka added a further 57 for the sixth wicket with Dunith Wellalage (19).
Sri Lanka appeared to be 20 runs short as they were bowled out in the 49th over. However, in the end, it proved to be just enough.
It is Sri Lanka’s first ODI series win over Australia in more than a decade and their first series victory at home against the Aussies in 30 years.