Four years since hammering the Australian attack in a home test match for a glorious century that fell short close to a double ton, the pint sized Kusal Mendis, who has since then not had the best of fortunes, did bring back that magical attribute to his willow works carving a Player of the Match winning unbeaten 69 off 58 balls to ride Sri Lanka out of a winless despondency by a comprehensive 5-wicket triumph over the Australians in the final T20 at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds on Sunday.
Mendis, who did not have the ideal of starts to the tour having had to sit out a Covid driven quarantine in missing the first two games, rose to be Sri Lanka”s deliverer hitting 5 fours and a six in staying to the very end as the Lankans notched up 155 for 5 off 19.5 overs in response to Australia’s 154 for 6 off 20 overs.
It was a significant turn around by Sri Lanka in stopping Australia’s ominous run.
The Lankan buoyance was reflected in the gelling in the batting with Skipper Dasun Shanaka bringing to play the pinch hitting prowess he is known for in smashing Kane Richardson for a six to equal the scores on 154. He did eventually lose his wicket trying to hit an improvised big shot the very next ball over the wicket-keeper only to be bowled. But Dasun Shanaka had done his part in a 35-run flourish off 31 in the dazzle of two sixes. It left the likably unflinching Chamika Karunaratne to seal it for Sri Lanka with the winning boundary. Contributing to it upfront was Charith Asalanka in a 9-ball 20-run flurry illiuminated by 2 boundaries and a six in setting up the required run equation.
Australia’s innings was built around Mathew Wade’s 27-ball 43 (2×2, 2×6) with the Glen Maxwell sparkle of 29 off 21 (2×4, 1×6) and Josh Inglis 23 off 20 (3×4). Bu it was not to be Australia’s day.
For the Lankans, Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara took 2 for 30 and 2 for 34 respectively. Kane Richardson took 2 for 28 for the hosts.