Gillette T20 INTL Series v Sri Lanka
Warner guides Australia to T20I clean sweep
Opener's third consecutive half-century delivered a 3-0 whitewash for the hosts
Dave Middleton at the MCG
1 November 2019, 06:38 PM AEST
Sri Lanka 6-142 (Kusal Perera 57, Cummins 2-23 ) lost to Australia 3-145 (Warner 57no) by seven wickets with 14 balls to spare
The match in a tweet
Clean sweep! Much improved Sri Lanka put up a fight in front of raucous crowd but Aussies simply too strong to take series 3-0 and set sights on Pakistan
For the third straight game, David Warner proved far too hot for the Sri Lankan bowlers to handle. Warner complained he was struggling for rhythm during a mid-pitch chat with the Fox Cricket commentary crew via Spidercam at the fall of the second wicket. He was 37 from 36 balls at the time, again showing his resilience to dig in and keep the scoreboard ticking over in this format. Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga went horizontal and nearly reeled in a spectacular effort that would have had Warner on his way early on. His biggest break came when on 42 as a ball from Lahiru Kumara rebounded off his body and dribbled onto the stumps, but failed to dislodge the bails. Warner had his battles with the bowler all night, having earlier been cut in half but a delivery that seamed back into the left-hander, but the Aussie had the last laugh, slogging the final ball of the over over the rope. The left-hander finished with 57 not out, hitting the winning runs with his fifth boundary.
He fell short of the record for the most runs in a three-match T20 series – that remains with New Zealand's Colin Munro who hit 223 against the West Indies, but finished the tournament with 217 runs having hit 100no out in the first game and 60no in the second.
Missing Glenn Maxwell
Plenty has been said about Glenn Maxwell's brave call to step away from international cricket to take care of his mental health, but the reality struck when he was absent from the XI that strode out onto the MCG turf. It was big shoes to fill for Ben McDermott. The Hobart Hurricanes batsman showed he was a safe pair of hands in the deep with a trio of catches. But he wasn't able to capitalise on his opportunity with the bat, trapped leg before to Malinga for 5.
The consolation effort
Kusal Perera earned a promotion up to No.3 in this match – and found himself in the thick of the action early after Mitchell Starc's first-over wicket. But with Perera and Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka were able to avoid the sort of early collapses that had marred their first two outings in this series. Perera clipped his first ball off his legs for four, and enjoyed the odd slice of luck – both boundaries he hit off Pat Cummins came off top-edges from attempted pulls, the first sailing over third man and another past fine leg for a boundary. There were only two more boundaries for him – a brilliant drive through the covers off Starc, and a perfectly executed reverse sweep over the head of two fielders up in the ring off the leg-spin of Adam Zampa.
There were a few quirky happenings on this muggy night in Melbourne. Starc was adamant he had Mendis trapped in front with the first ball of his second over. After Paul Wilson turned down the appeal captain Aaron Finch sent it upstairs. To the naked eye it looked a tight call if the ball had pitched in line with the leg stump or not, but technology failed and the ball-tracking software was not available to third umpire Gerard Abood. So the on-field call of 'not out' stood, but the Aussies did not lose their review given there was a technology break down. As it turned out, they didn't need another one anyway.
The Kusal quirk II
Diving to make your ground is pretty common, nothing unusual there. Diving so that you crash head first into the stumps is a little more unorthodox. But that's what Mendis did when called through for a quick single by Kusal Perera in the fourth over. With Cummins still on the pitch in his follow through, Mendis took the shortest possible path to safety and his slide sent him cannoning into the woodwork, lighting up the zing bails and making some great footage for the stump cam.
Body on the line stuff from Mendis! #AUSvSL pic.twitter.com/ukvnIlZihq— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 1, 2019
Cummins near hat-trick
The frenetic nature of T20 cricket meant when Cummins took wickets on the last ball of the 12th over and with the first ball of his next – the 17th of the innings – few realised the Aussie superstar was on a hat-trick. Fox Cricket reminded Steve Smith, who was mic'd up for the match, and the former Australia captain suggested to current white-ball skipper Finch maybe a slip was in order. Finch waved him away, and Cummins whizzed one past the off stump, wisely left alone by Shehan Jayasuriya.
Cummins finished his four overs with 2-23, having had Aviska Fernando caught by McDermott at deep backward square – the third catch of the night for the young gun. He returned to claim the key breakthrough of Kusal Perera for 57, after he got the Sri Lankan to mis-time a pull shot for an easy catch for Ashton Turner. Cummins conceded just two boundaries off his 24 balls – both to Perera.
Aaron Finch became Australia's all-time leading six-hitter in T20 international cricket when he sent Shehan Jayasuriya over the midwicket fence in the seventh over. It was his 84th six in T20 international cricket, passing the previous record held by Shane Watson – with David Warner having joined Watson on 83 in the previous match. Finch hit three sixes in his knock of 37 – the third, and 85th of his career was the best, a beautifully timed straight drive over long-off.
That's glorious from Aaron Finch! #AUSvSL pic.twitter.com/FJlmpDC5PO— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 1, 2019
The crowd came to see his yorkers but it was the six he bashed over long-on off the first ball he faced that had the Sri Lanka heavy crowd up and about. In the final over with death bowling specialist Kane Richardson steaming in, Malinga sent the ball sailing into the adoring fans for the loudest cheer of the night.
The coin toss
Finch flipped the coin toss and Malinga called heads. The coin landed tails and there was a collective holding of the breath in the warm afternoon air. Finch said Australia would bowl first, and a sigh went around the ground from the passionate fans hoping to see the in-form Aussies pile up a monster score. But the Aussies are building a winning culture and no doubt wanted to be ruthless, while the threat of late thunderstorms may also have played a role.
The next stop
There'll be no rest for the victorious Australians. It's straight to Sydney and the first of three matches in the Gillette T20I Series against Pakistan on Sunday. The afternoon game at the SCG will be followed by matches at Canberra's Manuka Oval on Tuesday night before the final T20I of the home summer next Friday at the Perth Stadium.
Pakistan promise to be a much more engaging opposition for the Australians, boasting the world's top ranked T20 batter in captain Babar Azam, and the world No.2 T20 bowler in Imad Wasim. They warmed up for the tour with a solid win against a Cricket Australia XI
For Sri Lanka, it's time to lick wounds and regroup with their next internationals not until a three-game T20 series away to India from January 5.
The T20 World Cup is closer than you think
The next men's international white-ball cricket at the MCG will be the T20 World Cup. Of course, there's the Boxing Day Domain Test against New Zealand before then – and a whole host of domestic games. The final of the women's tournament on March 8 will be the next time international limited-overs cricket comes to the MCG. The Australian men's next limited-overs engagement at this venue is in 372 days' time, on November 6, 2020, when they will play the Black Caps in the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Patrick Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake.
Sri Lanka XI: Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera (wk), Avishka Fernando, Shehan Jaysuriya, Oshada Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksha, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga (c), Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara.
Gillette T20 INTLs v Sri Lanka
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Sean Abbott
Sri Lanka squad: Lasith Malinga (c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha
First T20: Australia won by 134 runs
Second T20: Australia won by nine wickets
November 1: Australia won by seven wickets
Gillette T20 INTLs v Pakistan
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir.
November 3: First T20I, SCG, 2.30pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 5: Second T20I, Manuka Oval, 7.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 8: Third T20I, Perth Stadium, 4.30pm (Fox & Kayo)