Sri Lanka pip Australia by 4 runs to seal ODI series win 

Charith Asalanka slammed his maiden ODI century on Tuesday

Charith Asalanka starred with a brilliant 110 as Sri Lanka clinched a narrow win by 4 runs over Australia in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday, clinching a series win by 3-1 with one game to spare. The win on Tuesday night was the first time since Sri Lanka had beaten Australia at home in an ODI series since 1992. 

In reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 258, the visiting Australian  side once again produced a disappointing show with the bat to fall short by a narrow margin, despite a splendid 99 from their opening batsman David Warner and late fightback from their tail-end batsmen Pat Cummins and Matthew Kuhnemann. 

It was Australia who decided to field after winning the toss and did well to reduce Sri Lanka to 34/3 inside 10 hours before Charith Asalanka took over to bail Sri Lanka out of trouble. Glenn Maxwell provided Australia with the first breakthrough early on when he removed Niroshan Dickwella for 1 while Mitchell Marsh and Pat Cummins struck to take one wicket each, removing Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis for 13 and 14 respectively. 

This was when the pair of Dhananjaya de Silva and Charith Asalanka got together, adding 101 runs from 101 balls for the fourth wicket to power Sri Lanka in the middle overs. Dhananjaya de Silva hit 7 fours to make 60 from 61 balls, whereas the left-handed aggressive batsman Charith Asalanka scored his maiden century in the format, hitting 10 fours and 1 six to make 110 from 106 balls. 

After their partnership for the 4th wicket was broken, Charith Asalanka found strong support from the young Dunith Wellalage, as the two batsmen added 57 runs for the 6th wicket from 64 balls — a partnership which played a key role in powering the home team’s total past the 250-run mark. 

For Australia, Pat Cummins, Matthew Kuhnemann and Mitchell Marsh took 2 wickets each while Glenn Maxwell played his part well, taking a solitary wicket. 

The Australian side was off to a poor start when their captain Aaron Finch was dismissed for a four-ball duck, and in the absence of their middle order mainstay Steve Smith, the visiting batsmen could not do enough to trouble either the scorers or the Sri Lankan bowlers. 

Barring David Warner, there was no specialist Australian batsman who took the fight to the opposition camp. The left-handed David Warner bounced back from a few disappointing outings to make 99 from 112 balls, hitting 12 fours in the process. But the other batsmen disappointed, with Mitchell Marsh making 26, Marnus Labuschagne scoring 14, Alex Carey making 19 and Travis Head falling for a 33-ball 27. 

Australia all-rounder Cameron Green made 13 but the pair of Pat Cummins and Matthew Kuhnemann took the fight right till the end. Pat Cummins scored 35 from 43 balls — the second highest score for Australia in their chase — but his effort was not enough. 

The young Matthew Kuhnemann hit 3 fours towards the ending stages of the game to keep the contest alive until the final ball, but could not win the game for his side. 

Sri Lanka used as many as eight different bowling options from which they got 2 wickets each from Chamika Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva and Jeffrey Vandersay. 

The fifth and final ODI will be played at the same venue on Friday, June 24 post which the two teams will head over to Galle to prepare for the first Test starting on next Wednesday, on June 29.