Nervy chase takes Australia to 2-1 lead over Sri Lanka

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Dambulla (Sri Lanka)—Australia lost their top three in the space of four overs and 13 runs as they stumbled in pursuit of 227 to win the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Dambulla. Stand-in captain David Warner (10), fellow opener Aaron Finch (30) and new number three Shaun Marsh (one) were the early casualties as the hosts took the upper hand in a tense contest. Marsh’s wicket was tinged with controversy, the Western Australian standing his ground when Dinesh Chandimal claimed a catch at mid off just above the ground.
George Bailey then teamed up with South Australian youngster Travis Head (36) to take the score beyond 100, however Head was bowled when looking to cut Kusal Perera to leave the Aussies in strife at 4-108 after 23.
Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews took two of the first three wickets to fall, inducing false shots from Warner and Marsh as the ball looked to hold up on the Dambulla wicket.
Amila Aponso, who took 4-18 to be the chief destroyer last time out, accounted for Finch lbw, though replays showed had the Victorian opted to review, he’d have enjoyed an overturned decision.
Tillakaratne Dilshan farewelled ODI cricket with 42 and a bow, but Dinesh Chandimal stole the show with his fourth one-day international century as Sri Lanka set Australia 227 for victory in the third game in Dambulla. David Warner’s first act as Australia’s stand-in captain was to call incorrectly at the toss, but on the field he marshalled his men effectively, maintaining the pressure on Sri Lanka as wickets fell regularly.
Adam Zampa was once again a key weapon, collecting 3 for 38 from his 10 overs, and there were two each for Mitchell Starc, John Hastings and James Faulkner as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 226 with four balls to spare. Chandimal just had time to reach triple figures with a drive through cover for a single off his 128th delivery, in the penultimate over off Starc, before he was the last man out skying a catch off Faulkner.
Of late in one-day cricket, Chandimal has been batting like he’s Keanu Reeves in Speed, afraid something terrible will happen if he drops below 50. He did so, marginally, in the second ODI in Colombo, where his 48 ended his hopes of becoming the first Sri Lankan to make six consecutive ODl fifties. But in Dambulla he was back above the mark. His last seven ODI innings now read: 52, 62, 63, 53, 80*, 48 and 102.
Chandimal was the only real steadying influence throughout the Sri Lankan innings. His approach was simple: push the ball into the gaps and rotate the strike. Repeat, and repeat. That method brought him 56 singles, although he managed seven boundaries as well, driving when the fast men overpitched or punishing them for bowling too straight. His half-century came up with a deft dab for four wide of the wicketkeeper off Hastings from his 66th ball.
The only half-century partnership for the innings was the 73-run stand between Chandimal and Dilshan, the retiring hero who struck five fours on his way to an entertaining 42. But any hopes of a big farewell innings ended when Dilshan whacked a Zampa full toss to midwicket and was well caught by George Bailey. To the applause of players and fans, Dilshan walked off with a bow, the owner of 10,290 ODI runs, the 11th-highest tally in history.
But the contributions from the rest of Sri Lanka’s batsmen were disappointing. For the second time in this series – and the fourth time on the tour, Tests included – Starc struck in the first over of an innings. This time Danushka Gunathilaka poked at a good-length delivery and chopped on for 5. It continued Sri Lanka’s wretched record of opening partnerships in the Tests and ODIs against Australia – their highest so far is 12, set in the previous ODI.—AFP

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