Jayawardene floors Australia
Mahela Jayawardene’s 85 and an impressive cameo from Thisara Perera led Sri Lanka to a gripping three-wicket win over Australia in the Commonwealth Bank Series at Hobart.
Peter Forrest’s maiden international century - he scored 104 off 138 balls in a third-wicket partnership of 154 with half-centurion Michael Clarke - steered Australia to a competitive total of 280 for six.
Jayawardene, though, responded in fine style to get the chase off to a great start and after Dinesh Chandimal’s 80 put Sri Lanka in the box seat, Perera finished the job in a nervy finish.
The win took Sri Lanka to the top of the points table, ahead of Australia in second and India in third, with six games played apiece.
The hosts were quickly in trouble as Matthew Wade and David Warner fell within the opening seven overs to leave them 27 for two. Clarke announced his arrival with a four and a six off Farveez Maharoof and Forrest dispatched Rangana Herath for a maximum.
Those shots were the exception as the pair found scoring tough, though Forrest powered Perera for four to reach fifty and, after Australia passed 100 in the 26th over, Clarke followed his partner to the landmark.
The captain was out for 72 to an excellent catch from Perera off Angelo Mathews, before Forrest reached his century with a quick single. Forrest smashed his next ball for four as he belatedly looked to up the tempo, but fell off the next delivery; he sliced Mathews to Maharoof at deep cover.
Thereafter, cameos from brothers David and Mike Hussey as well as Brett Lee’s 15-ball 20 left Sri Lanka needing 281 to win.
Jayawardene got the chase off the a flying start with a succession of boundaries, including a glorious six over midwicket off Lee. The skipper’s dominance was best illustrated by the fact Tillakaratne Dilshan fell with the total on 55, but had contributed just three runs.
Kumar Sangakkara came and went for a run-a-ball 22 as Jayawardene passed his half-century, before combining with Chandimal in a stand of 63.
Xavier Doherty eventually lured Jayawardene down the pitch for a stumping off a beautifully flighted delivery, but, with Chandimal manipulating the strike, Sri Lanka were still well placed.
When Chandimal and then Maharoof fell in quick succession, they needed 31 off four overs.
However, the dismissal of Mathews, caught in the deep to give Dan Christian his third wicket, in the penultimate over seemed to turn things decisively in Australia’s favour.
But Perera followed a streaky four by launching a huge six to turn the tables, with Nuwan Kulasekara’s classy four off his first ball sealing victory with four deliveries to spare.