Familiar batting problems held the Lankan Lions back even in the second ODI in Pallekele on June 16, but their bowlers came together and inspired a morale-boosting win against the Australians. In a rain-marred fixture, Sri Lanka could muster only 220/9 in the first half and yet won the game by a healthy margin of 26 runs on DLS.
The game was readjusted to a 43-over fixture, with the tourists chasing a score of 216 before Sri Lanka’s pacers and spinners combined to trigger their downfall. Allrounder Chamika Karunaratne (3/47) emerged with the most wickets for the night, while Dushmantha Chameera (2/19), Dhananjaya de Silva (2/26) and youngster Dunith Wellalage (2/25) took two wickets apiece in the second half.
Despite chasing just over five runs an over at the start of their chase, the Aussies lost regular wickets and never really settled into a rhythm with the bat, which would’ve propelled them to another win. Multiple players entered double digits, including Steve Smith (28) and Travis Head (23), but only David Warner (37) and Glenn Maxwell (30) reached thirties as they finished 189 all out in the 38th over.
The Aussies will be disappointed by the loss as they missed out on a great opportunity to further strengthen their grip on the series, especially after an impressive bowling display led by spearhead Pat Cummins’ four-fer (4/35). Debutant Matthew Kuhnemann (2/48) and Maxwell (2/35), with his part-time spin, also bagged two wickets apiece.
Sri Lanka, too, stuttered along with the bat in hand, seeing various batters get in and get out without any substantial contributions. Kusal Mendis’ 36 was the top score for the innings, while de Silva and skipper Dasun Shanaka proved to be the joint second-highest run-makers with 34 off 41 and 36 balls, respectively.
The difference was made by the Lankan bowlers, who overcame their team’s batting struggles to produce a spirited effort and a series-levelling victory.
Sri Lanka 220/9 in 47.4 overs (Mendis 36; Cummins 4/35, Maxwell 2/35) beat Australia 189/10 in 37.1 overs (Warner 37; Karunaratne 3/47, Chameera 2/19) by 26 runs on DLS method