The T20 world champions laboured to a tense victory against a gritty Sri Lankan side at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo to gain a 2-0 unassailable lead in the three-match T20I series between the two sides.
Wanindu Hasaranga’s brilliant individual performance, however, will be a positive takeaway for the Sri Lankans despite their inability to close out the game after putting the opposition in trouble. For the men from Down Under, it was Matthew Wade who again proved to be the difference in yet another tight game.
Australia, who were without ace speedster Mitchell Starc, won the toss and decided to put the hosts into bat on a tricky Colombo wicket. The plan worked immediately, as their bowlers struck twice, reducing SL to 7/2 in just about three overs.
Kusal Mendis and Charith Asalanka were able to fend off the initial burst and built somewhat of a partnership, adding 66 runs for the third wicket before both batsmen were dismissed. Mendis suffered quite an unfortunate dismissal, with a Jhye Richardson bouncer hitting him on the helmet before he took a tumble and hit the stumps.
The rest of the Lankan batting was quite disappointing, with the likes of Bhanuka Rajapaksa and skipper Dasun Shanaka, both usually big-hitters, failing against the Aussies. Sri Lanka finished on 124/9 in their 20 overs and were in need of a fantastic bowling display to even have the faintest chance of winning.
The Australian innings started off in a rather blistering fashion, leading most to believe that a repeat of the first T20 was on the cards. However, the Sri Lankans struck frequently even as the Aussies continued to attack before Hasaranga turned the tables firmly in his side’s favour.
He picked up three wickets in quick succession and four in total to leave Australia gasping at 99/7. The precarious situation that Australia were in, combined with the nature of the Colombo wicket, should have made for a win for the hosts, but Wade scored a run-a-ball 26 to take his side home.
Richardson was also instrumental in the victory. He soaked up the pressure from one end, playing 20 balls for his nine runs as the Aussies took an unsurpassable lead in the series.