MELBOURNE: Chamara Kapugedera smashed a four off the final ball to give Sri Lanka a thrilling five-wicket victory over Australia in their first T20I at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.
The win kept Sri Lanka unbeaten in four T20Is in Australia and followed their 2-1 series win over South Africa last month.
“Thanks to the Sri Lankan supporters. We have beaten South Africa and Australia — one of the best teams in the world — and it is a good feeling,” said Sri Lankan skipper Upul Tharanga, according to ESPNcricinfo. “All the batters enjoyed the game. Fielding is the area where we have to improve. The bowlers, though, did well to keep them to 168.”
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.
Gunaratne shared a decisive 60-run stand with Milinda Siriwardana to put the Sri Lankans just 18 runs short of victory with 17 balls remaining.
It was a tense finish with skipper Aaron Finch making fielding changes before every ball to prevent Sri Lanka from getting home.
But Kapugedera stood up to the pressure and slammed fast-bowler Andrew Tye's final delivery through the covers for the winning hit.
The win puts Sri Lanka one up in the series with two matches to play in Geelong on Sunday and Adelaide on Wednesday.
“Credit to the Sri Lankans. They came out swinging and attacked the chase,” said Finch. “When you have the power to hit down the ground and also scoop over the keeper, it is tough to bowl to. I thought [off-spinner Ashton] Turner gave us a chance there, but unfortunately it did not go our way. I thought we were a bit short. We lacked maybe a 15-plus over. There were a lot of positives too and I am looking forward to Geelong.”
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