Friday 15 December 2017 / 03:15 PM

SRI LANKA WIN FINAL-BALL THRILLER AT THE ‘G

Sri Lanka kept their cool to win the opening Twenty20 international against Australia at the MCG, with a last-ball four from Chamra Kapugedera sealing a five-wicket win.

Australia set a competitive target of 169, but a half-century from man-of-the-match Asela Gunaratne kept the visitors’ chase on track.

The home side got off to a flyer thanks to captain Aaron Finch (43 off 34) and Michael Klinger (38 off 32), who smacked four boundaries in his long-awaited international debut in his hometown.

The openers fell in consecutive overs, with returning pace spearhead Lasith Malinga catching Klinger off Lakshan Sandakan and Finch off Gunaratne. Travis Head (31 off 25), Moises Henriques (17 off 10), Ashton Turner (18 off 13) and James Faulkner (14* off 7) all made handy contributions.

Malinga took the wickets of Head and Turner in consecutive balls in the 19th over before Australia finished on 6/168 off their 20 overs, helped along by some woeful ground fielding by the opposition.

Sri Lanka’s reply started disastrously with Upul Tharanga out for a duck in the first over, caught-behind off Pat Cummins. But fellow opener Niroshan Dickwella (30 off 25) and Dilshan Munaweera (44 off 29) steadied the ship superbly.

Adam Zampa claimed the free-scoring duo in the ninth and 11th overs respectively, but Gunaratne (52 off 37) took over to advance the tourists’ score to 151, before he was stumped off Turner’s bowling on the first ball of the 18th over.

Sri Lanka needed just 17 off as many balls, but Milinda Siriwardana’s (15 off 11) departure two deliveries after Gunaratne’s left new batsmen Kapugedera and Seekkuge Prasanna with a tricky assignment.

They managed to keep the equation at a run a ball right down to the last delivery of the match, and with the scores tied, Kapugedara blasted Andrew Tye through the covers and to the boundary to put Sri Lanka 1-0 up.

Meanwhile, the Australian women’s team thumped their New Zealand counterparts by 40 runs in the first match of the T20 double-header at the ’G, with captain Meg Lannings (60 off 52) and Elyse Villani (73 off 47) guiding the hosts to 4/151.

Sri Lanka 5 for 172 (Gunaratne 52, Munaweera 44) beat Australia 6 for 168 (Finch 43, Malinga 2-29) by five wickets

[YouTube – NZAUCricket]

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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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