Australia 126 for 7 (Wade 26*, Finch 24, Hasaranga 4-33) beat Sri Lanka 124 for 9 (Asalanka 39, Mendis 36, Kane Richardson 4-30, Jhye Richardson 3-26) by three wickets
The Richardsons – Kane and Jhye – shared seven wickets between them to clean out Sri Lanka’s middle and lower orders. Glenn Maxwell took two as well, and Josh Hazlewood bowled four overs for just 14 runs. All this meant that on either side of a 66-run stand for the third wicket, Sri Lanka’s batting fell to pieces again, and the hosts limped their way to 124.
This should have made for another straightforward chase, but Wanindu Hasaranga magicked his team back into the game with two wickets in the Powerplay, and two more later on, returning match figures of 4 for 33.
At the end of Hasaranga’s last over, Australia still needed 26 runs, with only three wickets in hand. But they had 48 balls remaining, and Matthew Wade took them home with an unbeaten 26, with Jhye for company. It was, a comfortable win in the end. But not one without tense moments.
A dramatic power play – Part I
Although Australia were chasing a low total, their batting Powerplay was box-office. Clearly, Aaron Finch and David Warner were intent on taking down Sri Lanka’s main bowlers. Dushmantha Chameera was welcomed to the attack with two bludgeoned square boundaries either side of the wicket by Finch. Warner then blasted him into the stands beyond deep midwicket later in the over. And when Hasaranga came on, Finch was looking to dominate him again, as Australia had done early on in Tuesday’s match. He bashed the first ball down the ground for two, then crashed him through extra cover for four, before lifting him towards midwicket for another two…
Then Hasaranga struck, setting a little top order stumble in motion. Finch tried to carve Hasaranga over the offside, but ended up slicing it aerially Danushka Gunathilaka at cover, who took a good catch above his head. There was some drama over whether Hasaranga’s back foot had crossed the return crease (which would have constituted a rare, back-foot no-ball) but it turned out that the foot was landed behind the crease.
There were four fours before the next wicket – two to Warner, and two to Mitch Marsh, before Hasaranga struck again, this time by slipping a googly under Marsh’s sweep shot to trap him in front. In the last over of the Powerplay, Nuwan Thushara hit a shuffling Steve Smith in front of the stumps as well.
Because Australia had struck 10 fours and a six inside the Powerplay, they were still way ahead of the game, and had no reason to worry. yet…
Hasaranga’s Double Strike
Despite those three Powerplay wickets, followed by losing Warner and Marcus Stoinis right after, Australia were still cruising. That was until Hasaranga claimed two wickets in two balls to yank Sri Lanka back into the match, in the 12th over. He floated one up to Glenn Maxwell, who holed out to long-off. Then next ball, he ripped a legbreak between Ashton Agar’s bat and pad to leave Australia seven down. But with Wade still in, Australia knew they could do it in singles, which is what they mostly did. Wade’s 26 was at a run-a-ball and featured just two boundaries.
Sri Lanka’s batting shambles
As with the first match, Sri Lanka found themselves seriously short of both batting firepower and nous. Charith Asalanka was involved in a good partnership again, hitting 39 off 33, as he and Kusal Mendis – who made a run-a-ball 36 – put on 66 together. But their Powerplay had been woeful, having lost two wickets for 28. And after Maxwell broke this partnership, getting Asalanka to top edge an attempted strike down the ground, Sri Lanka’s middle and lower-middle orders stumbled rapidly, losing five wickets for 31, as the Richardsons bowled hard into the pitch and mixed up their pace.
Sri Lanka managed only four fours in their last six overs. And two of those came off edges.