An expectant packed home crowd that had turned up to cheer their heroes on to a series rounding off, was disappointed to watch Sri Lanka’s frontline batsmen fall like nine pins in a total turnaround from back to back victories in a 4- wicket defeat to Australia of the fifth and final ODI at the R. Premadasa International Stadium yesterday.
Sri Lanka clinched the series 3-2, but the failure of the Lankans to maintain the winning momentum that the home crowd mainly of young men and women draped with flags and painted faces was a let down to the partying tamasha the home fans had vibrantly looked to when their lions, batting first crashed to an ordinary 160 in 43.1 overs. Australia, despite some early setbacks of losing three early wickets that of both openers in skipper Aaron Finch for a duck to Maheesh Theekshana and David Warner for 8 to Dinuth Wellalage and debutant Josh English for 5 to Theekshana, held their nerve to get home reaching 164 for 6 off 39.3 overs.
The innings started disastrously with Pathum Nissanka gone for 2 with the score 9 and Dhanushka Gunathilaka for 8 making it 2 for 12 and then 3 for 34 after 9.4 overs that of Dinesh Chandimal, coming in for Dhananjaya de Silva, out for 6. Wickets continued to fall like black magic – Charith Asalanka, century making match winner of the previousgame by a suicidal run out for 14 and Kusal Mendis for 26 – both in quick succession with Sri Lanka reeling on 56 for 5 after 16 overs.
Sri Lanka precipitated to 85 for 8 with skipper Dasun Shanaka comprehensively bowled by Matthew Kuhnemann for and Wellalage gone for 4. It took a rear guard virtual lone effort by Chamika Karunaratne who struck a swashbuckling run a ball 75 decked with 8 boundaries and 2 sixes to lift the side to the final score. Debutant Pramod Madushan made a plucky 52-ball 15.
Karunaratne’s effort could not save his side from defeat, but his valour was repaid by being singled out for the Player of the Match award. Australia’s top scorer was Alex Carey who saw his side through with an unbeaten 46 off 65C.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 160 (43.1 Overs) (Chamika Karunaratne 75, Kusal Mendis 26, Pramod Madushan 15, Charith Asalanka 14, Mitchell Marsh 2/29, Pat Cummins 2/37, Kuhnemann 2/56, Glen Maxwell 1/49)
Australia 164/6 (39.3 Overs) (Alex Carey n.o. 45, Marcus Labuschagne 31, Cameron Green n.o. 25, Glen Maxwell 16, Dunith Wellalage 3/42, Maheesh Theekshana 2/26).