COLOMBO: 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.
Earlier, Australia braved a spin onslaught by Sri Lanka to reach 291-6 in their 50 overs after electing 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.
D. Warner c Theekshana b Chameera 9
A. Finch c de Silva b Vandersay 62
M. Marsh c Mendis b Wellalage 10
M. Labuschagne st Dickwella b Vandersay 29
A. Carey lbw b de Silva 49
T. Head not out 70
G. Maxwell c Wellalage b Vandersay 33
C. Green not out 15
EXTRAS (B-5, LB-4, NB-3, W-2) 14
TOTAL (for six wickets, 50 overs) 291
DID NOT BAT: J. Richardson, M. Kuhnemann, J. Hazlewood
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-14 (Warner), 2-47 (Marsh), 3-116 (Labuschagne), 4-121 (Finch), 5-193 (Carey), 6-233 (Maxwell)
BOWLING: Chameera 8-0-49-1 (nb1), Theekshana 10-0-37-0 (nb2), Karunaratne 5-0-46-0 (w1), Wellalage 10-0-56-1, Vandersay 10-0-49-3, de Silva 6-0-35-1, Shanaka 1-0-10-0 (w1)
N. Dickwella b Maxwell 25
P. Nissanka c Warner b Richardson 137
K. Mendis retired hurt 87
D. de Silva c and b Hazlewood 25
C. Asalanka not out 13
D. Shanaka b Richardson 0
C. Karunaratne not out 0
EXTRAS (B-2, LB-1, W-2) 5
TOTAL (for six wickets, 48.3 overs) 292
DID NOT BAT: J. Vandersay, D. Chameera, M. Theekshana, D. Wellalage
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-42 (Dickwella), 1-212 (Mendis, retired hurt), 2-255 (de Silva), 3-284 (Nissanka), 4-285 (Shanaka)
BOWLING: Hazlewood 9.3-0-57-1, Richardson 9-0-39-2 (w1), Maxwell 7-0-44-1, Kuhnemann 10-0-61-0, Green 5-0-30-0 (w1), Labuschagne 7-0-49-0, Head 1-0-9-0
RESULT: Sri Lanka win by six wickets.
SERIES: Sri Lanka lead five-match series 2-1.
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2022