Sri Lanka makes cricket history as Aussies sink to 20-year low

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Sri Lanka, pictured here producing their highest-ever successful run chase against Australia in the third ODI.
Sri Lanka produced their highest-ever successful run chase against Australia in the third ODI. Image: Fox Sports/Getty

Sri Lanka have produced their highest successful run chase in ODIs against Australia to stun the tourists and take a 2-1 lead in their limited-overs series.

Australia appeared to be in the box seat in the third ODI on Sunday after Travis Head helped them post 6-291 on a slow wicket in Colombo.

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However the hosts made ODI cricket history and were barely troubled in completing their pursuit with nine balls to spare.

Pathum Nissanka hit his maiden ODI century with 137 in the chase, while Kusal Mendis struck 87 in a 170-run second-wicket stand between the pair before retiring hurt with cramp.

It helped Sri Lanka record their biggest-ever successful chase against Australia, as they went 2-1 up in the five-match series with back-to-back wins over the tourists for the first time in 20 years.

Despite the loss, Australia insist they didn't err by going without a front-line legspinner after the six-wicket beating in Colombo.

With Adam Zampa back home on paternity leave, Australia decided not to play Mitchell Swepson.

They were also not helped by a dewy surface at night after initially winning the toss and batting, as the pitch sped up and turned less in the second innings.

Aussie players, pictured here congratulating Chamika Karunaratne after the third ODI against Sri Lanka.
Aussie players congratulate Chamika Karunaratne after the third ODI against Sri Lanka. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)

Matthew Kuhnemann (0-61 from 10 overs) and Glenn Maxwell were left as Australia's chief spinners, with Cameron Green (0-31 off five overs) preferred as a pace-bowling all-rounder ahead of Swepson.

While Sri Lanka were able to get great purchase out of their wrist spinner Jeffrey Vanderlay and his return of 3-49, Australia were forced to turn to Marnus Labuschagne (0-49) for seven overs of leggies.

"You can always look back at a lot of decisions and wonder what was the right one," captain Aaron Finch said.

"We still felt that was the right combination to go for on this wicket with how slow it looked.

"You saw in the first half of the game it was very stoppy and turned quite a bit. We thought it would continue to do that but it played a bit better under lights."

Aussies suffer brutal loss in third ODI against Sri Lanka

Pat Cummins was also rested in Sunday's loss, as Josh Hazlewood and Jhye Richardson bowled tightly but struggled to have pressure built around them.

After Maxwell (1-44) got the only early wicket of Niroshan Dickwella for 25, Hazlewood (1-57) and Richardson (2-39) caused the only other minor damage late.

But by then the game was gone thanks to Nissanka.

The right-hander was brilliant, producing the shot of the innings when he advanced at Hazlewood and hit him over mid-wicket for six.

He also slog-swept Maxwell for another big six and finished with 11 other boundaries before perishing to Richardson with seven runs remaining.

Head had earlier continued his fine form with the bat, hitting an unbeaten 70 from 65 balls just a week after whacking a century for Australia A.

With Steve Smith out and nursing a minor quad strain, Aaron Finch struck 62 and Alex Carey 49 as Australia had to grit and fight their way to a good total.

with AAP

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