A three-for from Kane Richardson, followed by a 50-run stand between Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch helped Australia win the third T20I by six wickets and secure an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
It was an important toss to win as Sri Lanka were put in to bat by Australia and restricted to a modest 121/6 – a display of smart bowling on Australia’s part, but also one with soft dismissals and poor shot selection from Sri Lanka.
The visitors began well, reaching 17/0 in two overs, but lost the plot soon after. Richardson came into the attack and immediately snapped up Danushka Gunathilaka and Charith Asalanka in an over to reduce Sri Lanka to 23/2. Gunathilka was undone by his paddle scoop, lobbing it straight to fine leg, while Asalanka poked one outside off to give Matthew Wade a regulation catch.
The misery compounded when Kusal Mendis (4) and Pathum Nissanka (16) fell in back-to-back overs. At 40/4, the Lankans looked in all sorts of trouble and in danger of folding early.
However, the fifth-wicket stand between Dinesh Chandimal and Dasun Shanaka revived them, although while the association lent stability to the innings, the scoring rate never threatened the hosts.
Chandimal was finally bowled by Richardson at the beginning of the 17th over for a 29-ball 25 with Sri Lanka slipping to 87/5. A few shots at the end and Shanaka’s presence managed to push the total to a more respectable 121/6.
With a low total to defend, Sri Lanka needed a terrific start and they got just that as Maheesh Theekshana dismissed Ben McDermott on the first ball of Australia’s innings. As Agar and Aaron Finch looked to rebuild, Theekshana struck again in the fifth over, removing the former by trapping him in front of leg.
At 26/2, Australia were in a similar position to that of Sri Lanka and needed some resistance from their experienced batters. Glenn Maxwell and Finch provided just that. While Maxwell took up the role of the aggressor, Finch dropped anchor at the other end. Slowly and surely, the duo began chipping away at the modest target.
Maxwell got a reprieve on 22 when he was dropped off Jeffrey Vandersay, albeit a tough chance at cover. Maxwell was able to add 17 more runs to his total before Theekshana struck again to dismiss him for 39, Kusal Mendis taking a simple catch in the deep.
Despite Maxwell’s crucial wicket, the half-century stand had revived the hosts and they need only 46 more in 9.2 overs. By the time Finch got out three overs later, the runs required had halved with Josh Inglis continuing from where the previous pair had left off.
Inglis and Marcus Stoinis kept their wits to run through the rest of the chase with ease. Stoinis hit two fours in the 17th over to help Australia to a six-wicket win, sealing the series 3-0 with two more matches left.
121 for 6 in 20 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 25, Dasun Shanaka 43n.o.; Kane Richardson 3/21)
124 for 4 in 16.5 overs (Aaron Finch 35, Glenn Maxwell 39, Josh Inglis 21n.o.; Maheesh Theekshana 3/24)
Spin bowling coach concedes Sri Lanka under bowled Dhananjaya
Rex Clementine in Galle
The question in everyone’s mind watching the second day’s play of the first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka was why off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva was not bowled enough as he was creating opportunities. The part-timer sent down just two overs on the day while the rest of the spinners took a hammering.
Dhananjaya had started off the day well claiming the wicket of Travis Head when he took a return catch but skipper Dimuth Karunaratne hardly bowled him thereafter even when Australian batsmen went on the rampage. Sri Lanka’s Bowling Coach Piyal Wijetunga conceded that Dhananjaya was under bowled.
“When Ramesh was bowling well, I thought we could have used Dhananjaya more. I thought we under bowled him. Had he bowled more, it could have been lot more different,” Wijetunga, a former Test cricketer told reporters.
Lasith Embuldeniya has been disappointing. While he has not been able to make breakthroughs, he also sent down too many loose deliveries which were duly punished. The left-arm spinner had struggled in the recent Test series in Bangladesh as well and the question was asked whether he would have been better off playing against Australia ‘A’ lead up to the Test series.
“Lasith has bowled well in training. The problem is when he goes out to the middle he struggles. It’s a matter of handling the pressure. The Bangladesh setback maybe is working on his head. When something of this nature happens, the player has to sort it out. A spinner more than a fast bowler or a batsman needs to be mentally strong. We need to address that issue,” Wijetunga stressed.
Sri Lanka’s spinners haven’t been able to send down even a single maiden over in the innings and Wijetunga said that it was due to the fact that the opposition batsmen were looking to attack. But in reality, every over the spinner offered loose balls and they were put away.
“I accept the fact that we didn’t bowl single maiden over in this innings. On spinning tracks batters try to be aggressive. This is not an excuse. We could have bowled a few maiden overs. According to my opinion the reason is the batsmen trying to be aggressive. They were looking to sweep and reverse sweep. Their batsmen handled spin better than our batters.”
Science in search of first win this season
By a Special Sports Correspondent
S. Thomas’ College will be looking for a better performance this week when they confront St. Joseph’s College in their Division 1 Segment A Group 1 A match scheduled for Saturday (June 2) which could be rated as one of the key matches to be worked off in the second week of the inter-school league rugby tournament.
The match scheduled to take place at Havelock Park will be played for the Lady Jayatilake Shield. The Thomians went down fighting last week to Trinity. Much is expected from the lads from Mount Lavina tomorrow if they are to get the better of Trinity; a team which proved last week that they are one of the sides to watch this season.
Trinity meanwhile lock horns with St. Anthony’s Katugastota at Nittawela today (Friday). Royal take on Kingswood which is the other game scheduled today.
In a key game in the Division 1 Segment A Group 1 B this week Science take on Dharmaraja. In this fixture Science is set to record its first win for the season. Last week the lads from Mount Lavinia went down fighting to Isipathana 18-9 and earned much respect for the spirited performance.
Vidyartha host St. Peter’s on Sunday at Nittawela. At the time of writing the venue for the Wesley vs Isipathana match was not released to the media by the tournament organizers.
Sri Lanka lose plot as Australia lead goes past 100
Rex Clementine in Galle
Spin had done the job against Australia in the limited overs series and with the opposition vulnerable against the turning ball, the quartet of spinners that Sri Lanka had picked were expected to put the brakes on the batsmen in the first Test in Galle. But the hosts were poor as they bowled too short and sent down too many loose balls to hand the initiative of the Test match to Australia, who finished day two on 313 for eight with a healthy lead of 101.
Sri Lanka were unable to tie down the attacking batsmen as none of the spinners managed a maiden over. Left-arm orthodox spinner Lasith Embuldeniya was expensive conceding 73 runs in his 15 overs giving away almost five runs an over while leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay went for more than six runs an over with his ten overs costing 68 runs.
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne’s bowling changes were also poor. Off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva had provided an early breakthrough when he took a return catch to dismiss Travis Head but soon after that he was taken off the attack on a rain curtailed day. Shockingly, Dhananjaya bowled just two overs on day two and the most economical and experienced bowler in the team has sent down only five overs in the innings.
Ramesh Mendis finished with four wickets and looked the most threatening among the bowlers, particularly against the left-handers. Jeffrey Vandersay claimed two including the big wicket of Usman Khawaja, world’s highest run getter this year, but lacked discipline.
Only 44 overs were bowled in the day of the scheduled 90 due to rain and a wet outfield. Sri Lanka had reduced Australia to 157 for five and were looking to knock the lower order cheaply, but there was little pressure from the spinners despite the pitch offering assistance.
Alex Carey and Cameroon Green added 84 runs for the sixth wicket with the wicketkeeper smashing 45 off 47 deliveries with six fours. There were questions asked at the start whether Australia would have been better off with the spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell instead of seaming all-rounder Green. But the Perth based big man justified his selection top scoring with 77 runs.
Green, considered a long term investment by Australia with a solid First Class record, could play a role of someone like Michael Bevan, who was an expert batting with the tail in limited over games.
Green and Mitchell Starc were dismissed in the space of three deliveries and with the total on 278 for eight, Sri Lanka looked to knock off Australia before they reached 300. But skipper Pat Cummins with a few mighty blows took the score beyond 300 and the lead past 100. He remained unbeaten on 26 in 16 deliveries with one four and three sixes. All three sixes came off Vandersay including two in an over.
Play will get underway early today at 9:45 am to catch up for lost time on day two.
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