Australia survived an electric spell from the all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga to edge Sri Lanka by three wickets and wrap up their three-match Twenty20 series.
The veteran wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (26 not out) handled the immense pressure of batting with the tail to secure victory with 13 balls to spare in Colombo on Wednesday night as the visitors took an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Chasing the hosts’ mediocre total of 124 for nine, the openers Aaron Finch and David Warner came out intent on powering Australia to victory as quickly as possible. Only a night earlier, the same pair blasted Australia to a 10-wicket win when they passed Sri Lanka’s score of 128 with six overs to spare.
The Lions showed far more fight in the second match, however, as Hasaranga weaved some magic with Australia collapsing to 99 for seven. The leg-spinner took figures of four for 33, and almost secured a hat-trick after removing Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar in consecutive balls. But Wade was able to steady the innings as he received solid support from the fast bowler Jhye Richardson to help give Australia a 2-0 lead.
With the fast bowler Mitchell Starc sidelined for the match on Wednesday after sustaining a finger injury, Maxwell was given the new ball and struck in the first over after Finch won the toss and elected to bowl. The Lions stumbled to 7 for two before Charith Asalanka (39) and Kusal Mendis (36) steadied the innings with a 66-run stand.
But Maxwell ended the partnership in the 12th over with Asalanka skying a ball to Finch. Mendis’s knock ended in bizarre fashion, departing after falling back into his stumps after being hit in the helmet by a delivery from Jhye Richardson.
The West Australian paceman, who has played just two international games since he was dropped after taking five wickets in the second Ashes Test win last December, came into the team for Starc. Jhye Richardson finished with career-best T20I figures of three for 26, while Josh Hazlewood (none for 16) was treated with extreme caution by Sri Lanka’s batters after his player of the match performance of four for 16 in game one.
Kane Richardson also had a career-best night with the ball, walking off the ground with figures of four for 30 after taking three wickets in the final over.
The final match in Kandy on Saturday will be a dead-rubber before a five-match one-day international series, starting on 14 June.