An amazing innings from Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka has denied Australia a sweep of their three-match T20 international series, with the home team scoring a dramatic four-wicket win in Pallekele.
A fine all-round performance from Marcus Stoinis (38 off 23 balls and 2-8 off two overs) had Australia well placed for victory on Saturday as Sri Lanka, chasing 177, lost five wickets for 41 runs, slumping to 6-108 in the 16th over.
An unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 69 between Shanaka (54 off 25 balls) and Chamika Karunaratne (14 off 10) then swept the home team to an improbable win as they thrashed 59 off a remarkable final three overs. The Australian quicks lost their discipline as Shanaka blasted five fours and four sixes, with Josh Hazlewood conceding 22 runs in the 18th over after giving away three off his first three.
Jhye Richardson leaked 18 off the 19th over, leaving the home team needing 19 off the last. Kane Richardson started with two wides as he looked to bowl yorkers outside off-stump and Shanaka sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy later in the over by blasting 14 off three deliveries before Richardson sent down another wide off the final ball to gift Sri Lanka the winning run.
Earlier, Australia made 5-176 after captain Aaron Finch won the toss for the third time in as many matches. Finch (29 off 20) and David Warner (39 off 33) got Australia off to a swift start with an opening stand of 43 off 5.4 overs.
Stoinis helped his side recover from losing wickets off three straight balls in mid-innings after the world champions were well placed at 1-85 with 9.5 overs gone. Glenn Maxwell, who smashed his T20 international best of 45 off 65 balls at the same ground in 2016, was caught at long on off his Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL teammate Wanindu Hasaranga, having scored 16 off nine balls.
Maxwell, who had been promoted to number three with Mitch Marsh out with a minor calf strain, had smashed two legside sixes from the first four balls he faced. The ball after Maxwell departed Warner was given out lbw to spinner Maheesh Theekshana (2-25) on review.
Australia’s slide continued off the next delivery when the recalled Josh Inglis was run out trying to sweep his first ball after leaving his crease and having the stumps thrown down by Charlth Asalanka, who moved across well from slip.
Stoinis revived the innings, striking three fours and a six. Smith took 18 deliveries before unleashing a six over midwicket and played fluently. Stoinis was also called upon to bowl his first overs of the series and he made important breakthroughs after the home team reached 1-67 in the ninth over.
Pathum Nissanka (27 off 25) and Asalanka (26 off 19) played with enterprise, adding 42 for the second wicket before Stoinis had the latter caught by Finch at short fine leg off another top edge. Stoinis struck again in his next over having Nissanka caught by Hazlewood at short third man.