Pathum Nissanka (55) and Danushka Gunathilaka (56) provided a terrific start, while Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva (37) finished with a late flourish, but it was Kusal Mendis (86*) who stood tall holding the inning together as Sri Lanka made 300 for 7 against Australia in the first of the five match ODI series in Pallekele yesterday.
Batting at number three, Mendis brought up his first ODI half century in two years and remained unbeaten on 86 off 87 with one six and eight fours as he guided the team towards 300, despite the slowness of the wicket troubling them throughout. After a lean patch, Mendis started off slowly and then marshalled the middle order as he put on 77 with Charith Asalanka for the fourth wicket, and 42 off 25 for the seventh wicket with Hasaranga.
Nissanka and Gunathilaka took no chances at the top as the pair were involved in 115 runs stand in 19.4 overs which gave Sri Lanka a solid platform to build on. Nissanka started off cautiously while Gunathilaka kept the scoreboard ticking in the first few overs, before Nissanka quickly caught up bringing up his half century in 61 deliveries in the 19th over which saw six fours and a six. A ball later Gunathilaka brought up his half century which saw seven fours. It was a throw from the deep by Marcus Stoinis which undid the partnership as Gunathilaka was run out for 55 trying to steal a second.
Sri Lanka found it hard going after this setback and quickly lost Nissanka for 56 and Dhananjaya de Silva for 7. Asalanka joined Mendis thereafter, and the pair slowly rebuilt the inning putting on 77 off 82. Sri Lanka who made the first 100 in 106 deliveries took 130 deliveries for the second 100. Asalanka was undone by Jhye Richardson for 37, while skipper Dasun Shanaka and Chamika Karunarathne could not make much of a difference to the score. However, Mendis kept one end in check and kept the scoreboard ticking, before Hasaranga’s late flourish brought the innings to a close.
Hasaranga smashed five consecutive fours off Jhye Richardson in the 49th over and finished with 37 off 19. Sri Lanka’s third 100 came in 70 deliveries, while they made 86 off the final ten overs.
Chasing Sri Lanka’s tally, Australia had reached 72 for 2 in 12.4 overs when the rain came down, and the ground was quickly covered.
By Anjana Kaluarachchi in Pallekele
D. Gunathilaka run out 55
P. Nissanka c Finch b Agar 56
K. Mendis not out 86
D. de Silva c Warner b Agar 07
C. Asalanka c Finch b Richardson 37
D. Shanaka c Warner b Labuschagne 06
C. Karunarathne c Carey b Labuschagne 07
W. H. de Silva c Richardson b Hazlewood 37
Extras (b1, lb2, w6) 09
Total (in 50 overs) 300 – 7
Fall of wickets: 1-115 (Gunathilaka, 19.4 ov), 2-118 (Nissanka, 21.4 ov), 3-134 (de Silva, 25.5 ov), 4-211 (Asalanka, 39.3 ov), 5-240 (Shanaka, 43.3 ov), 6-258 (Karunaratne, 45.5 ov), 7-300 (Wanindu, 49.6 ov)
Bowling: Josh Hazlewood 10-0-54-1, Glenn Maxwell 10-0-60-0, Pat Cummins 8-1-48-0, Jhye Richardson 8-0-64-1, Ashton Agar 10-0-49-2, Marcus Stoinis 1-0-3-0, Marnus Labuschagne 3-0-19-2