Glenn Maxwell slammed 39 off 25 balls as a dominant Australia thumped Sri Lanka by six wickets to win their third straight Twenty20 clash and seal the series in Canberra on Tuesday.
Glenn Maxwell slammed 39 off 25 balls as a dominant Australia thumped Sri Lanka by six wickets to win their third straight Twenty20 clash and seal the series in Canberra on Tuesday. The world champions have an unassailable 3-0 lead with two games to play after taking the opening match by 20 runs then clinching the second in a thrilling super over finish after it ended in a tie. They made a slow start chasing 122 to win at Manuka Oval, losing two early wickets before skipper Aaron Finch (35) and the big-hitting Maxwell steadied the ship.
They achieved the target with 19 balls to spare and the loss of four wickets.
Australia made three changes for the game, with Mitchell Starc returning and Ashton Agar and Daniel Sams given an opportunity, with Finch hailing the depth of the squad.
“That’s one thing we’ve been trying to expose a little bit more, shuffling guys around to get more information on the depth of the squad,” he said. “And it’s looking really good at the moment.”
With Sri Lanka needing victory to keep the series alive, they struck 17 off the first two overs after being sent into bat.
But they got bogged down by Australia’s economical bowling, crawling to 121 for six with skipper Dasun Shanaka making 39 and Kane Richardson bagging 3-21.
Their prospect of pulling off a victory was hampered by star leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga testing positive for Covid-19 before the match and speedster Nuwan Thushara pulling up injured after bowling only seven balls.
“No positives today, yet again a poor start from our boys,” said Shanaka. “Throughout the series it’s been a major concern. If we had that momentum from the start we could get those runs on the board. We were 20 to 30 runs short in this game.”
They got a boost when the dangerous Ben McDermott was out first ball, getting a thick edge to Charith Asalanka at slip off Maheesh Theekshana.
Ashton Agar, who surprisingly opened the innings, made 13 before Theekshana picked up a second scalp to leave Australia at 31 for two after five overs.
But Maxwell rode his luck, surviving three chances, to blast 39 and turn the tables before he too fell to Theekshana going for one big hit too many, after two sixes and three fours.
Finch was happy to play the anchor role before Josh Inglis (21) and Marcus Stoinis (12) steered them home.
Earlier, Sri Lanka made an aggressive start before Danushka Gunathilaka was out to Richardson’s opening delivery in the third over. He has now made 1, 0 and 9 in his three innings on tour, putting his place under threat.
Asalanka came in and smacked a six but departed a ball later, caught behind off Richardson, while Kusal Mendis, on his return after recovering from Covid-19, only lasted 11 balls before being undone by leg-spinner Agar.
Part-time spinner Maxwell bagged the big wicket of Pathum Nissanka, who has been Sri Lanka’s best batsman this series, but it needed an outstanding diving catch from Sams to remove him for 16 and leave the visitors tottering at 42 for four after eight overs.
Dinesh Chandimal and Shanaka added 47 for the fifth wicket but 122 was never going to be a big enough target.
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