Warner century seals Australia’s dominance

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Pallekele (Sri Lanka)—For the fifth time in the series Sri Lanka batted first and a vaguely familiar match played out as Australia ran down the hosts’ 195 in the 43rd over, zipping up the series 4-1. Mitchell Starc was denied his customary early wicket this time, but Sri Lanka’s middle-order collapse happened anyway, as it often has in the past two weeks.
Australia’s top order then delivered another consummate performance on a spinning track; the margin of victory was five wickets, but it seemed even more comfortable than that.It was David Warner, who provided the spine to this particular chase. He capped an outstanding eight days as captain by scoring Australia’s first ODI century in Sri Lanka – his 106 from 126 balls measured and delicate, in contrast to his usual maurauding style.
Warner’s 132-run third-wicket stand with George Bailey effectively ended the contest. The pair had come together at 25 for 2, but Sri Lanka’s score always seemed about 40 runs light.
Sri Lanka’s best start of the tour was squandered lavishly by the middle and lower order, as the hosts lost batsmen in clusters, then failed to build significant partnerships before the next cascade of wickets came around. They mustered 195 before being bowled out in the 41st over, no real fight forming at any stage in the innings.
Mitchell Starc made up for missing out on his customary early wicket by helping blast out the tail and taking 3 for 40. Each of the other five Australia bowlers also made at least one breakthrough.
It was more like a terrible rafting trip than an innings. Dhananjaya de Silva and Danushka Gunathilaka were surging along happily against the new ball – putting on 73 for the first wicket – before a waterfall came and Sri Lanka plunged, losing three for five runs. Before they had properly recovered from that dive, the next harrowing drop was upon them. Sri Lanka lost their fourth and fifth wickets for eight runs, and sixth and seventh wickets for 20. And the last three fell within 11 runs of each other, Sachith Pathirana scoring a fourth 30-odd of the innings, to go with those from the openers and Kusal Mendis.
As has been the case for much of the tour, Australia’s bowling was disciplined rather than deadly, but Sri Lanka’s batsmen folded alarmingly when a little pressure had built up. De Silva mis-hit James Faulkner to mid-on in the 14th over to set the collapse in motion. Six balls later, Gunathilaka misjudged the line of an Adam Zampa ball, and had his leg stump rattled when he missed a lap sweep. Dinesh Chandimal and Mendis were both out poking outside the off stump – though the latter did play some sublime strokes before the dismissal. Upul Tharanga slapped a Travis Head ball to point, and Dasun Shanaka was bowled by a Zampa slider.—AFP