Sri Lanka pip Australia in thriller, clinch T20 series

January 29, 2013 - 12:40:41 am

Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene (right) and team-mate Dinesh Chandimal (left) argue with Australia’s Glenn Maxwell (centre) after the final delivery of their Twenty20 international cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, yesterday. 

MELBOURNE: Sri Lanka won an ill-tempered and rain-shortened final T20 international against Australia off the last ball at the MCG yesterday.

Angry words were exchanged as the two sides walked off, with Sri Lanka winning by two runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method.

The tourists scored 161 for four wickets off their 20 overs but a shower which interrupted the home side’s innings reduced the match by five overs. 

That left Australia with a revised victory target of 122 off 15 overs -- meaning they needed 62 more off 30 balls with eight wickets in hand as play resumed after the rain.

The hosts finished on 119 for three after a tense final over which began with them needing 18 for victory.

Skipper George Bailey was caught for 45 off 36 balls with 16 more needed from the final four.

All-rounder Glenn Maxwell came in, requiring 12 runs off the last three, and smashed consecutive fours off Thisara Perera. 

However the bowler recovered his composure to control the last delivery after lengthy consultations with team-mates.

The time taken to bowl that last ball sparked some ugly on-field exchanges and ex-skipper Mahela Jayawardene was in the thick of it before Bailey restored some calm.

Angelo Matthews played down the incident. 

He said: “It was just the heat of the moment.”

He added: “Things happen. You exchange a few words. They play it hard. We play it hard. So that’s it. After the game you’re friends.”

Australia’s Bailey said both teams cared about the win. 

He said: “Passion mate. People care about the game and care about the way they play,” Bailey said. “I know we get along very well with this side. Even just the chats there coming off, I think it’s all just heat-of-the-moment stuff. But I think what you’re seeing is individuals and teams that are pretty keen to win.” 

Jayawardene had earlier cracked an unbeaten 61 from 45 balls in a well-built innings.

He came in with the tourists in trouble on just 39 after Australia had snared three early wickets by the seventh over.

But Jayawardene opened up in the final overs, striking two sixes and five fours. He was ably assisted by the big-hitting Perera, who plundered 35 off just 15 balls.

The pair took 20 runs off the last over. 

Australia, a young side building for the future and facing the world’s top T20 outfit, also lost early wickets. David Warner fell for seven and Aaron Finch went for the same score in the fifth over.

The tourists won the first match by five wickets at the Sydney Olympic Stadium on Saturday night.

Sri Lanka and Australia drew the one-day series 2-2 after Australia swept the Tests 3-0 earlier this month. 

Australia will travel to India  for a four-Test series match that begins in March. AFP