Sri Lanka v Australia ODIs - Men
Sri Lanka spinners seal ODI series in Colombo classic
Australia were on track to their victory target before they lost three wickets in nine balls – including David Warner stumped for 99 – as Matt Kuhnemann's late batting heroics fell just short
Louis Cameron at the R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
22 June 2022, 11:00 AM AEST
Sri Lanka's spin barrage fired them to a first home one-day series victory over Australia in three decades in a thrilling fourth ODI that saw Australia come within one blow of an unlikely last-gasp victory in Colombo.
David Warner fell one agonising run short of a century to cap a collapse of 3-3 in the space of nine balls that appeared to have all but sunk the visitors.
No.9 Pat Cummins (35 off 42) staged a brave late fightback before No.10 Matthew Kuhnemann, needing 15 off the last over and with the Aussies nine wickets down, struck three final-over boundaries to reduce the equation to five needed off the final delivery (four for a tie) from Dasun Shanaka.
But Kuhnemann could only sky a catch to hand the hosts a dramatic four-run win, as another packed-out crowd enthusiastically celebrated Sri Lanka's first home ODI series triumph over Australia since 1992.
Charith Asalanka (110 off 106 balls) was the home side's hero as his maiden international century fired his side to 258 on a worn and turning R.Premadasa Stadium pitch that prompted the selection of four specialist (and two part-time) Sri Lankan spinners.
Congratulations, Charith Asalanka - a maiden ODI century at a crucial time for Sri Lanka. Five overs still remaining in Colombo #SLvAUSLIVE SCORES: https://t.co/QfWraKWwdS pic.twitter.com/Isy7cETyhr— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) June 21, 2022
With Warner at the crease and 15 overs left, the Aussies appeared to have the run chase under control with six wickets in hand and the required run-rate at a little over 4.5 per over.
But Warner's stumping against the off-spin of all-round star Dhananjaya de Silva (60 off 61 and 2-39) meant the Aussies were always up against it despite their tail's remarkable late efforts.
All but six of the overs bowled to Australia, who themselves only picked just one frontline tweaker, were delivered by spin – just the fifth time they have ever encountered more than 40 overs of spin in an ODI.
Having earlier slumped to 3-34, Sri Lanka were rescued by Asalanka and de Silva in a daring 101-run stand and could have managed an even bigger tally than the 258 they finished on had they not given up three of their final six wickets to senseless run outs.
Warner played a super hand on a used, wearing surface but his exit one run short of his 19th ODI ton, which would have put him outright second among Australia's all-time century makers in the format, seemingly ended Australia's hopes of levelling the series.
The left-hander saw a series of batting partners come and go; after opener Aaron Finch was lbw for a duck to Sri Lanka's only frontline seamer, Chamika Karunaratne, he watched from the other end as the rest of the middle order all threw away starts to the home side's spinners.
Off-spinners Maheesh Theekshanna (1-40) and de Silva flipped the game on its head with the wickets of Travis Head (27), Glenn Maxwell (1) and Warner in the space of nine balls.
Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka have been flagged as the future of Sri Lanka's top-order, and it was only fitting that Asalanka followed his former national U19 teammate in chalking up his maiden ODI hundred not 48 hours after Nissanka achieved the feat on Sunday evening.
After receiving a slice of fortune on his second ball when Pat Cummins hit his leg-stump with a ball that failed to dislodge the bails, Asalanka hardly put a foot wrong in a punchy hand that saw him smartly shepherd their elongated tail.
In fact, his only real misstep came when, on 52, he burnt Dasun Shanaka when he changed his mind on taking a second run. He sensibly avoided his skipper by batting for another hour and more than doubling his score.
Inserted by the Aussies, Sri Lanka's second ODI heroes Nissanka and Kusal Mendis were both back in the sheds before the fielding restrictions had lifted as Mitch Marsh removed Sunday's century-maker Nissanka in the first over he had bowled since suffering a calf injury earlier in the tour.
You can't afford to miss you're that far down! 🙃 #SLvAUS pic.twitter.com/62U0I9FUMe— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) June 21, 2022
Cummins (2-37 from nine) who eventually dismissed Asalanka, Marsh (2-29 from seven) and Josh Hazlewood (0-45 from 10) aside, Australia's bowlers struggled to stem the flow of boundaries despite having put the hosts in a compromising early position.
Spinners Maxwell, Kuhnemann and Marnus Labuschagne went at more than 6.5 per over and did not pose the same threat as their Sri Lankan counterparts did.
Australia wrapped up the Sri Lankan innings with an over to spare by pulling off two run outs in six balls, the second from substitute fielder Mitchell Swepson, who pulled off a sharp direct-hit from the inner fielding circle.
Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka, 2022
Sri Lanka ODI squad: Dasun Shanaka (c), Pathum Nissanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Niroshan Dickwella, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Asitha Fernando, Nuwan Thushara, Ramesh Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana, Praveen Jayawickrama, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Madushanka, Dunith Wellalage, Pramod Madushan
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
June 24: Fifth ODI, Colombo, 7pm AEST
Sri Lanka Test squad (provisional): Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Kamil Mishara, Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Chamika Karunaratne, Ramesh Mendis, Mohamed Shiraz, Shiran Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lakshitha Rasanjana, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suminda Lakshan
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
June 29 - July 3: First Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST
July 8-12: Second Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST
All Sri Lanka v Australia international fixtures will be screened live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports