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All-round Australia prevail in a low-scoring thriller

James Faulkner picked up four wickets in the game.
James Faulkner picked up four wickets in the game.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Australia 228-7 (Smith 58) beat
Sri Lanka 227-8 (Chandimal80no) by three wickets
First One-Day International Colombo

After a disciplined bowling performance, fifties from Aaron Finch and Steven Smith helped Australia chase down a target of 228 runs in 46.5 overs to defeat Sri Lanka by three wickets in the first One-Day International in Colombo.

Earlier in the day, Mitchell Starc and James Faulkner shared seven wickets between them as Australia restricted Sri Lanka to 227 for eight with Dinesh Chandimal’s unbeaten 80 and Kusal Mendis’ fifty being the only shining knocks.

Australia won the toss and opted to bowl first. In the very first over, Starc (3-32) castled Kusal Perera (1), giving his team an excellent start.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (22) and Mendis (67) got together to build a 42-run stand for the second wicket. Mendis was dropped by Finch in the eighth over as Sri Lanka reached 43 for one after 10.

Moises Henriques (1-48) had Dilshan caught at point off a top edge. In the next over Mendis survived an LBW review. Both Chandimal (80 not out) and Mendis (67) endured a few close calls in their 79-run stand for the third wicket, which came up in 18 overs.

Mendis completed his fourth fifty in the 24th over, taking Sri Lanka to 96 for two at the half-way mark.
A double strike from Faulkner (4-38) in the 30th over removed Mendis and Angelo Mathews (0), putting Sri Lanka on the back foot.

Two overs later, Starc became the fastest bowler to snare 100 ODI wickets when he removed Dhananjaya de Silva (2).

As the runs dried up, Chandimal completed his patient fifty and endured a tough spell against the fast bowlers.

Despite losing Milinda Siriwardana (19), Thisara Perera (21) and Dilruwan Perera (10), handy knocks from the trio pushed Sri Lanka to 227 for eight in 50 overs.

Finch (56) started the chase positively but David Warner (8) was caught behind in the eighth over off Thisara (1-25).

By the end of 10 overs, Australia had already knocked off 61 runs from the target, with Finch hitting seven fours and two sixes in the period.

Finch then completed his fifty in the 12th over but became AmilaAponso’s (1-27) maiden international wicket in the 15th over.

Two overs later, Sri Lanka unsuccessfully reviewed a caught behind appeal against Smith (58), who was dropped by Mathews (0-33) in the 20th over.

At the half-way mark, Australia were reduced to 128 for three as Lakshan Sandakan (2-33) took his first ODI scalp by having Matthew Wade caught at short midwicket.

Smith dropped anchor and kept the runs flowing while George Bailey (39) also settled down at the other end.

Smith completed his fifty in the 36th over but he was caught at short leg off Dilruwan (3-48), minutes later.

With 10 overs left in the game, Australia needed 26 more runs for a win with six wickets in hand. Sri Lanka tried to mount a comeback by removing Henriques (6), Bailey and Travis Head (10) in quick succession.

However, Starc (5 not out) and Faulkner (5 not out) stayed unbeaten and saw Australia home to a tense three-wicket win by chasing the target down in 46.5 overs.

Faulkner was the man of the match for his four-wicket haul.

© Cricket World 2016