Sri Lanka claim series opener

Ross Houston
February 17, 2017

The pulsating win was made possible by a dashing 52 off 37 balls by Asela Gunaratne, who was named man-of-the-match for his match-turning innings.

A temporary coaching line-up was required as the regular coaching staff, along with the Test team, will be preparing for the four-Test series in India, which begins just a day after the third and final Twenty20 worldwide against Sri Lanka on February 22.

That target was reduced to three from two balls amid increasing tension, but Chamara Kapugedera (10 not out) scrambled two from the penultimate delivery before cracking Tye through the covers for a boundary that sealed a five-wicket win and delighted a sizeable contingent of Sri Lanka fans.

The second of the three-match series will be played on Sunday (19) at Geelong. "They came out swinging and attacked the run chase", Finch said.

The 31-year-old Gunaratne was then joined by Milinda Siriwardana (15) in the middle and the duo added 60 runs for the fourth wicket to raise their hopes of a win.

The Australians missed the star power of Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc, who are all in India preparing for a Test series, beginning on Thursday.

"I thought we were a bit short".

Lanka?s final score read 172-5 in their stipulated 20 overs.

Klinger, at 36 the oldest Australian T20 global debutant, combined with Finch for a solid opening partnership of 76. Lasith Malinga was also included for his first full worldwide appearance since February a year ago.

Leading the attack due to the absences of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins got Australia off to a flawless start by having Sri Lankan captain Upul Tharanga (0) caught behind in the first over.

Head provided some late fireworks to propel Australia to a seemingly competitive total which could have been greater if not for Malinga's (2/29 from 4 overs) sharp bowling at the death which yielded wickets in consecutive balls in the penultimate over of the innings.

Lanky paceman Billy Stanlake, one of several Australians looking for a pay day in the Indian Premier League auction on Monday, began his first over with successive wides, and his second only got worse when he conceded 24 runs, including three boundaries off the first three balls by Munaweera and the indignity of being swept for six off the last by Dickwella. It was only when leg-spinner Adam Zampa was introduced that Australia were able to drag back the run rate - and make two key incisions.

But Gunaratne took charge and his half-century turned the tide to set up the thrilling victory for the Sri Lankans.

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