Sri Lanka Hold Their Nerve In MCG Thriller
Sri Lanka 161-4 (Jayawardene 61no) beat
Australia 119-3 (Marsh 47no) by 2 runs (D/L)
Second Twenty20 International, MCG
Report by Daniel Grummitt
The second Twenty20 International at the MCG had everything. A fine innings by one of the most stylish batsmen in world cricket, Mahela Jayawardene, poor death bowling, rain, a revised target, and eventually a close finish.
Ultimately, it was Sri Lanka who held their nerve and defended four off the last ball to take a clean sweep of the two-match series.
Following a break for rain after 10 overs of the Australian run chase with them going nowhere on 60 for two, Shaun Marsh and George Bailey suddenly exploded when told they would need to score 62 off the final five overs.
The 11th over went for 12 to just about keep up with the required rate, before Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara edged the Sri Lankans ahead with overs costing just seven and nine respectively.
However, the Australians weren’t finished yet and, much to the delight of the MCG crowd, Bailey and Marsh combined to hit three boundaries and 16 runs off the penultimate over bowled by Lasith Malinga. All three shots were beautifully played, with Bailey getting down on one knee to scoop Malinga over fine-leg for one of his boundaries and Marsh hitting inside-out over cover to collect his.
This left 18 required from the final over, with Sri Lanka having already used their best death bowler. Unfortunately for the hosts, Bailey holed out off the second ball and, with 16 needed from the final four deliveries, hopes looked slim.
Credit then to new man Glenn Maxwell who, following a no-ball delivered to Marsh and a single of the next, hit fours from the next two to leave four needed from the final ball. That was to prove a bridge too far, however, and he was only able to manage a swing and a miss as Australia scampered a bye. Sri Lanka had won by two runs.
There were, unfortunately, some rather unpleasant scenes at the end, with the Australians seemingly unhappy at the time it had taken Sri Lanka to bowl the last five overs - more than half an hour - and it is likely that fines, probably for things other than over-rate violations, will follow. Maxwell seemed to initiate the discussion, with Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Matthew Wade among those getting involved.
Earlier, Sri Lanka had been in an even worse position than Australia at the mid-point in their innings, finding themselves 56 for three following a tight opening spell from James Faulkner (one for three from his first two overs). However, Mahela Jayawardene was there and hit the first six of the innings in the 12th over - from which point Sri Lanka never looked back.
He combined firstly with Jeevan Mendis (25 off 24 balls) to begin the recovery, but latterly, and most destructively, with Thisara Perera.
The pair added 59 from the 28 balls that they faced together, and plundered 20 from the final over, bowled by Ben Laughlin, with Jayawardene beginning with three fours and Perera top-edging a wild slog off the fifth ball over fine-leg for six.
That gave Sri Lanka a strong total of 161 for four from their 20 overs which, despite a rain interruption, proved just enough, so ending their mixed tour of Australia on a positive note.
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