Charith Asalanka lavished praise on his fellow teammate Dhananjaya de Silva for his innings against the ‘mighty’ opponents on Tuesday.
Asalanka scored a match-winning ton helping Sri Lanka make history by guiding them to a thrilling four-run win in the fourth ODI in Colombo, and also to their first bilateral series win at home over the mighty Aussies in three decades.
De Silva scored 60 runs off 61 balls and lent good support to Asalanka to enable Sri Lanka post a defendable total batting first.
“It was a strong challenge against the mighty Australians. 3 wickets down early and I want to specially mention de Silva’s innings. He eased the pressure off me and I was able to play a long innings,” said Asalanka in a post-match presentation.
“The track was similar to the last game but it spun more later in the game. Me and Dhananjaya thought to bat till the 40th over; that was the plan, and set a target about 250,” he added.
It was a closely contested match at R. Premadasa Stadium, with a result that could go either way till the very last ball. Ultimately, it was the Lankan Lions that emerged victorious and clinched the five-match series 3-1 with one more match to go.
Put to bat by Australia, Sri Lanka did not have an ideal start, losing Niroshan Dickwella (1), Pathum Nissanka (13) and Kusal Mendis (14) with the total 34.
It was Dhananjaya de Silva and Charith Asalanka who then rebuilt the innings for the Lankans. The duo took the attack to the Aussie bowlers, forging a useful 101-run stand, which ended after all-rounder Mitchell Marsh sent back Silva to the pavilion for 60 off 61.
On the other hand, Asalanka put up a brave fight against the Australians. He kept one end steady while wickets tumbled at the other end, and smashed his maiden ODI century. He ultimately fell to pacer Pat Cummins for 110 when the team’s score was 256.
With support from lower order batters Dunith Wellalage (19) and Wanindu Hasaranga (21*), Sri Lanka were able to reach 258 runs all out.
Pat Cummins (2/37) and Mitchell Marsh (2/29) were the stars for Aussies with the ball. Matthew Kuhnemann (2) and Glenn Maxwell (1) were also among the wickets.
Chasing 259, Australia lost opener and captain Aaron Finch for a duck in the third over. David Warner and Mitchell Marsh then revived the chase with a 63-run stand. The stand ended with Marsh falling to young Wellalage for 26.
Marnus Labuschagne (14), and wicketkeeper Alex Carey (19) could not really do a lot with the bat. Travis Head (27) formed another valuable 58-run stand with Warner before falling to de Silva for 27. By this time, half of the Aussie batters were back in the pavilion with the score on 189.
Two quick scalps – that of Glenn Maxwell (1) and David Warner, who fell one-run short of his century – swung the momentum in favour of the Lankans, reducing Australia to 192/7.
All-rounder Cameroon Green (13) and Pat Cummins tried to bring the Aussies back into the game stitching a 31-run stand, which ended with Green falling to spinner Jeffrey Vandersay. In the 49th over, Cummins also fell for a fighting 35, reducing Australia to 240/9 in 48.5 overs.
The equation was down to 19 needed from the last over. Matthew Kuhnemann tried to take his team over the line, but fell short by four runs after falling for 15 off the bowling of captain Dasun Shanaka in the final ball of the match, caught in the covers by Asalanka.