All-round Australia clinch third T20I, seal series

The Nation  |  Feb 16, 2022

CANBERRA - A three-for from Kane Richardson, followed by a 50-run stand between Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch helped Australia win the third T20I by six wickets and secure an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

It was an important toss to win as Sri Lanka were put in to bat by Australia and restricted to a modest 121/6 – a display of smart bowling on Australia’s part, but also one with soft dismissals and poor shot selection from Sri Lanka. The visitors began well, reaching 17/0 in two overs, but lost the plot soon after. 

Richardson came into the attack and immediately snapped up Danushka Gunathilaka and Charith Asalanka in an over to reduce Sri Lanka to 23/2. Gunathilka was undone by his paddle scoop, lobbing it straight to fine leg, while Asalanka poked one outside off to give Matthew Wade a regulation catch. The misery compounded when Kusal Mendis (4) and Pathum Nissanka (16) fell in back-to-back overs. At 40/4, the Lankans looked in all sorts of trouble and in danger of folding early. 

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However, the fifth-wicket stand between Dinesh Chandimal and Dasun Shanaka revived them, although while the association lent stability to the innings, the scoring rate never threatened the hosts. Chandimal was finally bowled by Richardson at the beginning of the 17th over for a 29-ball 25 with Sri Lanka slipping to 87/5. A few shots at the end and Shanaka’s presence managed to push the total to a more respectable 121/6. 

With a low total to defend, Sri Lanka needed a terrific start to and they got just that as MaheeshTheekshana dismissed Ben McDermott on the first ball of Australia’s innings. As Agar and Aaron Finch looked to rebuild, Theekshana struck again in the fifth over, removing the former by trapping him in front of leg.  At 26/2, Australia were in a similar position to that of Sri Lanka and needed a some resistance from their experienced batters. Glenn Maxwell and Finch provided just that. While Maxwell took up the role of the aggressor, Finch dropped anchor at the other end. Slowly and surely, the duo began chipping away at the modest target. 

Accountability court adjourns hearing of Ramzan Sugar Mills case till Feb 24 Maxwell got a reprieve on 22 when he was dropped off Jeffrey Vandersay, albeit a tough chance at cover. Maxwell was able to add 17 more runs to his total before Theekshana struck again to dismiss him for 39, Kusal Mendis taking a simple catch in the deep. 

Despite Maxwell’s crucial wicket, the half-century stand had revived the hosts and they need only 46 more in 9.2 overs. By the time Finch got out three overs later, the runs required had halved with Josh Inglis continuing from where the previous pair had left off. Inglis and Marcus Stoinis kept their wits to run through the rest of the chase with ease. Stoinis hit two fours in the 17th over to help Australia to a six-wicket win, sealing the series 3-0 with two more matches left.

Scores in brief

AUSTRALIA 124 for 4 (Maxwell 39, Finch 35, Theekshana 3-24) beat SRI LANKA 121 for 6 (Shanaka 39*, Chandimal 25, Richardson 3-21, Agar 1-14) by 6 wickets. 

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