Charith Asalanka’s rearguard act hands Sri Lanka first bilateral ODI series win at home over Australia in three decades

The fourth ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka ebbed and flowed time and again, and went down to the wire eventually. In the end, the islanders were good enough to get across the line. It didn’t seem that way for a majority of the 259-run chase with David Warner producing one of his finest ODI knocks as he controlled the innings brilliantly with decent support from the other end. However, Sri Lanka kept picking wickets at regular intervals to hang in there.

However, at 189/4, it certainly looked like a canter but that became 192/7 in no time with Warner being one of those three wickets to fall. The game turned on its head from there and despite Australia’s late order defiance, they were always going to fall short. Kuhnemann tried his best, aided also by Dasun Shanaka’s bowling in the final over, but the hosts held their nerve to clinch their first bilateral ODI series win at home over Australia in three decades.

Earlier in the day, Charith Asalanka compiled his maiden ODI hundred as Sri Lanka finished with a challenging score of 258 in Colombo. Dhananjaya de Silva gave the southpaw ample support and ended up with 60. Those who betted on the pair at must’ve been happy.

The hosts, who were inserted into bat, found themselves in choppy waters early on as Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka were dismissed within the first 10 overs. With Sri Lanka in a mess, Dhananjaya and Asalanka joined forces to prop up the innings with a match-defining stand of 101. Dhananjaya employed the sweep and loft against the spinners and also showcased his cheekiness while facing the pace bowlers. On the other hand, Asalanka was content to milk the singles. Dhananjaya was dismissed attempting a pull shot off Mitchell Marsh, with Glenn Maxwell taking a blinder.

Despite losing his partner, Asalanka continued to play with a calm head on his shoulders. He essayed some crisp drives off Cameron Green and Marsh. Matthew Kuhnemann cut short the promising stand by removing Dunith Wellalage and followed it up by sending Chamika Karunaratne back to the pavilion. Wanindu Hasaranga then collected a couple of boundaries off Kuhnemann in the 45th over to ensure the momentum wasn’t stalled. In the same over, Aslanka completed his maiden ODI century.

Once he attained three figures, Asalanka tried to press the accelerator by pulling Pat Cummins for a six. The pace spearhead, though, had the last laugh as he took out Asalanka with a cutter. In the penultimate over of the innings, Sri Lanka lost their last two wickets to run outs and were bowled out with an over left.