Sri Lanka pulled off a sensational comeback win over Australia in a thriller at Simmonds Stadium on Sunday to seal the T20 series with a game to go. Chasing 174 for victory, Lankans reached the target with two wickets in hand to win the game.
Finch departs early
Sri Lankan captain Upul Tharanga won the toss and put Australia to bat first. The Aussies did not have best of the starts as Captain Aaron Finch was dismissed for 12 in the third over of the innings with the team score standing at 18. He was replaced by Ben Dunk on the crease and the left-hander used the field restrictions to great effect.
Dunk makes Merry
Dunk hit three fours and equal number of sixes in his 14-ball-32 before he was castled by an Asela Gunaratne off-cutter. Moses Henriques joined hands with opener Michael Klinger and steadied the ship. The pair added 50 off 46 deliveries but as soon as they thought of accelerating, Vikum Sanjaya had Klinger caught behind the stumps to disrupt the momentum.
Travis Head was dropped in his short stay of four balls, but could not capitalize on the chance. He was dismissed of the very next ball which begun a parade to the pavilion. Henriques kept fighting from one end but wickets kept on tumbling from the other. Prassana got rid of Turner in the 16th and Malinga removed danger-man Faulkner in the 17th over.
The experienced duo of Malinga and Kulasekara gave just 14 runs in the last two overs, at the same time picking up 5 wickets in bargain to bowl out Aussies at 173. Henriques remained unbeaten on 56 off 37 with two fours and two sixes.
— ICC (@ICC) February 19, 2017
Sri Lanka off to a horrible start
Sri Lanka were off to a poor start as skipper Tharanga was dismissed by Turner in the very first over. Dickwella kept on flashing hard at whatever came his way and rode his luck to score three boundaries of Cummins’ second over. But the day ended for him in absolutely opposite fashion as he was given out on a delivery which hit his shoulder before going to Paine behind the stumps.
Kusal Mendis continued his poor run, departing for five off seven deliveries and gifting Jhye Richardson his maiden T20 wicket in the process. Andrew Tye got rid of Munaweera and Siriwardana off the consecutive deliveries to make it five wickets inside five overs.
Kapugedera and Gunaratne bring calm
Chamara Kapugedara and Gunaratne joined hands and played steadily to keep Sri Lanka in the chase. The duo added 52 off 48 deliveries, a partnership mostly constituting of singles and doubles with occasional boundaries. However, Kapugedara was undone by Cummins to bring the end of his run-a-ball 32 and Lankans were back in trouble.
Prassana was out two overs later with the Lions needing 55 off 27 deliveries and it seemed to be game for Australia. But Gunaratne had other thoughts as the all-rounder kept on picking occasional boundaries. Kulasekara scored two fours at crucial juncture.
Gunaratne pulls off a blinder
With 36 needed of last two overs, Gunaratne hit Henriques for a hat-trick of sixes and a four to make it 14 off the last over. Tye dismissed Kulasekara off the first delivery, but the strike went to Gunaratne in the process. The all-rounder continued where he had left last over with a four and a six to make it four of three. This was followed by two singles and with two required off final ball, he struck a four bring Sri Lanka home.
— ICC (@ICC) February 19, 2017
The victory means Sri Lanka continue their unbeaten streak against Australia in Australia in T20I and the hosts continue their mediocre run of without a win in more than two years. Gunaratne was awarded Man of the Match for his excellent knock of 84 off 46 balls with six fours and five sixes.
Summarized score: Australia 173 ( Henriques 56*, Klinger 43, Kulasekara 4/31) Sri Lanka 176/8 (Gunaratne 84*, Kapugedara 32, Tye 3/37)