Sri Lanka 139-5 (Mathews 35no) beat
Australia 137-3 (Warner 90no) by 5 wickets
First Twenty International, Sydney
Sri Lanka put a dampener on Australia Day celebrations in Sydney with a five-wicket win over Australia in the first Twenty20 International at the ANZ Stadiu.
They completed a fourth straight win over Australia when Thisara Perera smashed Ben Laughlin for two sixes in the penultimate over.
David Warner had earlier made 90 not out in 62 balls as Australia posted 137 for three after they were pegged back by Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara at the death.
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By contrast, Sri Lanka were able to accelerate at the end of their innings thanks to Perera (19) and Mathews (35) putting on an unbroken stand for the sixth wicket worth 35 in 21 balls.
Laughlin missed a tricky caught and bowled chance off Mathews in the 17th over which might have taken the game down to the wire and he had already taken a brilliant catch to have Tillakaratne Dilshan (16) caught off Xavier Doherty, running from point and taking the ball as it fell over his shoulder.
Dilshan had pulled out the 'Dilscoop' to hit an early six but was otherwise becalmed and it was left to Kushal Perera, who made 33 in 22 balls with two fours and a six, to lead Sri Lanka's charge.
He fell with the score on 53 and then Australia worked their way back into the contest with Dinesh Chandimal caught at long-off and Mahela Jayawardene bowled by Doherty.
However, Lahiru Thirimanne came in and helped Mathews get things back on track with a neat 20 in 15 balls as Australia struggled to make up for the lack of a specialist fifth bowler - Glenn Maxwell (2-15 in three overs) did a superb job but Aaron Finch's sole over went for nine, including a couple of boundaries.
The return of Mitchell Starc immediately saw off Thirimanne, caught at point by Adam Voges, but the dangerous Perera joined forces with Mathews to show just why Sri Lanka are the top ranked side in Twenty20 International cricket.
Regardless of rankings, Warner remains one of the most dangerous cricketers in this format. Prior to the match, Cricket Australia had jokily advised people to turn up with helmets in case Warner got going, and it proved to be sound advice, his three sixes and five fours almost single-handedly giving Australia something to defend.
He muscled sixes over fine leg, long on and cover but this was no pure power display. He had to work for his runs, moving about in his crease and placing his shots - eventually scoring 65.6% of his team's runs.
Finch (1), Shaun Marsh (6) and George Bailey (11) fell cheaply and although Warner hitting the ball to all parts at the top had given Australia flyer, they were unable to hit Lasith Malinga (0-19) and Nuwan Kulasekara (1-21) in the final overs, with the result that the last oevers yielded just 35 runs. It would later prove to be vital.
Malinga bowled the 19th over and it went for six. Perera was able to hit Laughlin for 12 in two balls at the same stage and with Adam Voges unbeaten on 25 in 29 balls, Australia couldn't even get their hitters Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade and Ben Cutting to the crease.
Australia's chance to hit back is at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday (28th January) where they will hope for a more lively pitch as they bid to level the series.
© Cricket World 2013
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