Nissanka-inspired Sri Lanka eye elusive series win over Australia

Nissanka hits brilliant century as Sri Lanka beat Australia to take 2-1 lead in five-match ODI series



Pathum Nissanka plays a shot during the third ODI. (AFP)
Pathum Nissanka plays a shot during the third ODI. (AFP)

By AFP

Published: Mon 20 Jun 2022, 12:04 AM

Sri Lanka went 2-1 up on Sunday as they cruised to a six-wicket victory over Australia in the third one-day international thanks to a brilliant Pathum Nissanka century.

Set a tricky 292 to win after a Travis Head 70, the hosts won comfortably with nine balls to spare in Colombo, in their second straight victory in the five-match series.

Maxwell bowled Niroshan Dickwella for 25 but Nissanka and Kusal Mendis ground down the injury-depleted Australian attack of Josh Hazlewood, Jhye Richardson and Matthew Kuhnemann.

Mendis retired hurt unbeaten on 87 and was replaced by Dhananjaya de Silva who made 25, but Nissanka clung on until almost the end, caught off Richardson for 137 off 147 balls.

Richardson then bowled captain Dasun Shanaka for a duck, but Charith Asalanka — with an ice-cold six in the penultimate over off Hazlewood — and Chamika Karunaratne saw Sri Lanka home.

“I knew that it was a record chasing this down. It was a very good performance by the two youngsters with the bat, Pathum and Kusal Mendis. I hope they will take the momentum into the next match as well,” said Lankan skipper Shanaka.

“It was 1992 the last time we beat Australia in a bilateral ODI series; they are one of the best sides in the world and we hope we can take the next step. I think the combination we have is a good one. And I would like to thank the massive crowd that came to support us.”

Earlier Australia braved a spin onslaught by Sri Lanka to reach 291-6 in their 50 overs after being invited to bat first.

Opener David Warner went for nine in the third over, top-edging a Dushmantha Chameera bouncer to Maheesh Theekshana at fine leg.

Back from injury, Mitchell Marsh struggled to get going and departed for 10 off 23 deliveries, caught at cover by Mendis after a slower delivery by Dunith Wellalage.

Marnus Labuschagne came in at number four ahead of Head and he and Aaron Finch added 69 before Labuschagne was stumped by Niroshan Dickwella off Jeffrey Vandersay for 29.

Two overs later, Vandersay bagged Finch too, with the Australian captain edging the spinner to a diving de Silva at slip having made 62 off 85.

Head and Alex Carey added 72 runs before de Silva trapped Carey leg-before on the front pad trying to sweep, having made a quick-fire 49 off 52 deliveries.

Maxwell did some damage, smashing 33 off 18 before giving Vandersay his third wicket, miscuing the spinner into the hands of Wellalage scurrying back from midwicket.

But Head stayed firm, reaching his half-century and smashing Wellalage for three sixes in the penultimate over and ending 70 not out off 65 deliveries, with Cameron Green unbeaten on 15.

Vandersay ended with figures of 3 for 49.

Already missing Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson and Mitchell Starc, Australia left out Steve Smith after the batsman injured his left quad batting in Thursday’s 26-run defeat in Pallekele.

Marsh, however, returned to the side, as did Green and Richardson, while Pat Cummins and Mitchell Swepson were left out. Spinner Kuhnemann was again in for Ashton Agar.

The hosts were once again without key all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga, who injured his groin in the first match while Dickwella replaced Danushka Gunathilaka.


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