Monday 18 December 2017 / 02:51 AM

FAULKNER HAT-TRICK NOT ENOUGH FOR AUSSIES

A James Faulkner hat-trick and a top-scoring Matthew Wade couldn’t prevent Sri Lanka from levelling the ODI series at 1-1 in Colombo.

Paceman Thisara Perera and left-arm spinner Amila Aponso took seven wickets between them to dismiss Australia for 206, securing an emphatic 82-run win – and cancelling out Australia’s three-wicket victory in the series opener.

The hosts were early trouble at 2/12, but a 125-run stand from Kusal Mendis (69) and Dinesh Chandimal (48) rectified their innings.

Both players fell lbw in consecutive Adam Zampa overs, while Zampa also had Dhananjaya de Silva (7) out caught to leave Sri Lanka a crossroads, 5/158 in the 31st over.

Another stellar partnership put Sri Lanka in the driver’s seat again, however, as Angelo Mathews (57) and Kusal Perera (54) put on 103 for the sixth wicket.

The duo were removed by James Faulkner – Perera on the last ball of the 46th over and Mathews on the first ball of the 48th – before the Australian all-rounder, man-of-the-match in the first game, completed a hat-trick by rattling Thisara Perera’s stumps.

Faulkner’s triple strike helped restrict the damage in the latter overs, and Sri Lanka were all out for 288 in the 49th over.

But Australia started poorly, David Warner (1) the first to go as his dismal run of form continued, while first-game standout Aaron Finch (4) departed soon afterwards – both at the hands of Thisara Perara – to leave the tourists at 2/16 in the fourth over.

Steve Smith (30) and George Bailey (27) made handy contributions, while Wade’s 76 off 88 balls kept Australia in the hunt. But there was too much to do in the final 10 overs, and their last five wickets fell for just 24 runs.

Aponso, who earlier claimed Smith and Bailey, returned to mop up the tail, dismissing Zampa and Faulkner to finish with figures of 4/18. Thisara Perera notched 3/33, while skipper Mathews’ steadying innings and 2/17 with the ball garnered man-of-the-match honours.

Meanwhile, Smith’s tour is over, heading back to Australia to rest up ahead of a demanding summer schedule.

“Steve has a large amount of cricket coming up in the next 12 months and we wanted to find a time for him to freshen up and these last five matches provide a good opportunity to do so,” Australia’s chief selector Rod Marsh said.

“Regardless of the results of the first two matches our plan was always for Steve to take a break and refresh ahead of the ODI Series against South Africa next month.”

The struggling Warner will assume the ODI captaincy, with the third clash set down for Sunday in Dambulla.

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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