Skipper Dasun Shanaka brought to play the pinch hitting prowess he is known for hammering 54 off 25 balls to take Sri Lanka to an incredible last gasp 4-wicket triumph over world champions Australia in the third and final T20 yesterday at the Pallekelle International Stadium. In a typical captain to the fore display Shanaka, who had fallen cheaply in the previous two lost games, broke free with defeat staring in the face needing 59 off the last 3 overs in an unprecedented record sixth-wicket drama with Chamika Karunaratne that brought the capacity home crowd to their feet.
Shanaka, who was on 3 off 11, touched the summit of greatness in T20 cricket in a sheer power hitting display blasting 51 off the next 14 deliveries as the Lankan skipper brought down the might of the Aussie attack hit out of line and length to the tune of 4 over the top and 5 boundaries.
Sri Lanka topped victory on 177 for 6 with a ball to spare with Shanaka hammering a signature winning six in that unfinished record 69-run partnership off 25 balls. Sri Lanka was tethering on 108 for 6 when Shanaka answered the clarion call smashing Josh Hazelwood for 22 in the 18th over in spoiling the strike bowler’s figures that read 3 off 3 before the unfolding drama.
Shanaka, who has attributed his bottom hand prowess to swishing the softball as a schoolboy, rendered the Aussie attack to ribbons riding through mid -wicket. As the Lankan captain, who batted his way to that ultimate that earned him the Player of the Match award, was to voice post-match, determination to win was his one aim in overhauling Australia’s 176 for 5 after the visitors won the toss and batted. Full credit to Chamika Karunaratne, who came to the fore after some recent hicups by his share of 14 off 10 hitting 2 boundaries.
CHIEF SCORES: Australia 176/5 (20 Overs) RR: 8.80 (David Warner 39, Marcus Stonis 38, Steve Smith 37, Aaron Finch 29, Glen Maxwell 16, Mahesh Theekshana 2/25, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/33, Praveen Jayawickrema 1/43) Sri Lanka 177/6 19.5 Overs) RR: 8.92 (Dasun Shanaka n.o.54, Pathum Nissanka 27, Charith Asalanka 26, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 17, Dhanushka Gunathilaka 15, Josh Hazelwood 2/25, Marcus Stonis 2/8)