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Gunaratne blitz powers Sri Lanka to series victory

Asela Gunaratne was also named player of the match
Asela Gunaratne was also named player of the match

Sri Lanka 176-8 (Gunaratne 84no) beat
Australia 173 (Henriques 56no) by two wickets
Second Twenty20 International in Geelong

Asela Gunaratne played a majestic unbeaten knock of 84 runs from just 46 deliveries to help Sri Lanka chase down 174 against Australia in the final delivery with two wickets in hand to win the second Twenty20 International in Geelong and seal the series 2-0.

With rain delaying proceedings lightly, Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to field first. They replaced Lakshan Sandakan with Kusal Mendis while Australia handed debut to Jhye Richardson.

Even though, Aaron Finch (12) started the innings with a couple of boundaries, he was caught and bowled in the third over bowled by Vikum Sanjaya (2-32).

Ben Dunk (32) looked extremely positive and smashed three sixes and a four in the sixth over bowled by Dilshan Munaweera (0-22) as Australia ended the powerplay at 60 for one.

Gunaratne (1-26) ended Dunk's 14-ball onslaught when he castled him in the seventh over and with Michael Klinger (43) struggling to get going, Australia managed only 20 runs in the next four overs.

Klinger and Moises Henriques (56 not out) struck a six each in the 11th over to get going but Sri Lanka bounced back strongly when they dismissed Klinger, Travis Head (4), Ashton Turner (7), James Faulkner (1) and Tim Paine (7) in quick succession.

Henriques, who completed a 33-ball fifty was a mere spectator in the final over bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara (4-31), who picked three more wickets to dismiss Australia for 173 in their 20 overs.

In the chase, Sri Lanka lost Upul Tharanga (4), Niroshan Dickwella (14), Munaweera (10), Mendis (5) and Milinda Siriwardana (0) in the powerplay despite scoring 45 runs in it.

Gunaratne (84) and Chamara Kapugedara (32) tried to stage a recovery with a 52-run stand as Sri Lanka neared 100 in the 13th over.

Gunaratne struck a six and a four in the 14th over to bring down the required run-rate under 11 but the wicket of Seekkuge Prasanna (7) further complicated the chase as Sri Lanka needed 52 runs in the final four overs.

The 18th over bowled by Faulkner (2-32) saw Kulasekara (12) smash two boundaries but the decisive blow came in the penultimate over delivered by Henriques (0-38) in which Gunaratne plundered three consecutive sixes followed by a boundary leaving Sri Lanka 14 to get in the final over bowled by Tye (3-37).

Even though Tye managed to remove Kulasekara in the first delivery of the final over, Gunaratne struck a six and two boundaries including one off the final ball to steer Sri Lanka home and more importantly clinch the series.

For his heroics with the bat, Gunaratne was awarded the player of the match as well.

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