COLOMBO: Skipper Angelo Mathews led from the front with his all-round showing to help Sri Lanka register a comprehensive 82-run win against Australia in the second One-day International to level the series at 1-1 in Colombo.
Australia, who were chasing a record 289 for victory at R Premadasa Stadium, were bowled out for 206 in 47.2 overs with Matthew Wade top-scoring with 76 runs.
Left-arm spinner Amila Aponso claimed four wickets while medium-pacer Thisara Perera took three wickets to choke the Australian run chase.
“It was a good cricketing wicket, even though it spun. We needed that win and Aponso was brilliant, just amazing and he bowled with a lot of effort,” said Mathews.
But it was man of the match Mathews’ two wickets and a 57 with the bat that made Sri Lanka register their biggest win against Australia in terms of runs.
Sri Lanka’s previous best was a 79-run triumph at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in 2003.
Australia’s James Faulkner recorded his first ODI hat-trick but Sri Lanka, who chose to bat first, still managed to post 288 in 48.5 overs.
In reply Australia, who won the first of the five ODIs by three wickets, were dealt early blows after losing their openers to Thisara Perera.
David Warner was caught behind for 1 while Aaron Finch, who scored a half-century in the first ODI, was bowled for four with Australia left struggling at 16 for two.
Skipper Steven Smith tried to fight back with his 33-ball 30, his innings laced with five boundaries, but his wicket off Aponso spelt more trouble for the visitors.
George Bailey and Wade put together a 61-run fourth wicket partnership to keep Australia in the hunt but the required run-rate just kept mounting.
Bailey, who scored 27 off 46 balls, finally succumbed to the pressure of scoring quick runs after being bowled by Aponso, who registered impressive figures of 4-18 in just his second ODI.
Leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna soon joined forces with Aponso to get Moises Henriques, who scored four runs, stumped as Sri Lanka gained control of the match.
Wade then staged a gritty fightback with support from Travis Head as the duo managed 64 runs between them to keep Australia’s hopes alive.
Wade’s 88-ball knock was studded with three boundaries but the wicketkeeper-batsman finally became Thisara Perera’s third victim and the Australian resistence wilted.
Head, who scored 31, soon got out to Mathews as the visitors lost their way into the chase, losing their final five wickets for 24 runs.
The hosts rode on half-centuries from Mathews, Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera to put up a respectable score against a persistent Australian bowling attack led by Faulkner (3-45).
In-form batsmen Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal put together a 125-run third wicket partnership to build a solid platform.
Mendis, who followed up his 67 in the first ODI with a run-a-ball 69, hit nine boundaries and forced Smith to use seven bowlers until the 21st over.
The pair put quick runs on the board before a triple strike by leg-spinner Adam Zampa checked the hosts’ surge.
Chandimal, who top-scored with an unbeaten 80 in the previous game, was denied his sixth consecutive ODI fifty after Zampa trapped him lbw for 48.
The 24-year-old Zampa accounted for dangerman Mendis and then got Dhananjaya de Silva to leave Sri Lanka struggling at 158 for five.
The hosts were rescued by another crucial 103-run sixth-wicket partnership between Mathews and Kusal Perera who made 54.
But Faulkner hit Sri Lanka hard after getting Kusal Perera with the last delivery of his eighth over. He came back to dismiss Mathews and Thisara Perera to complete his hat-trick.
The left-arm pacer, who registered match-winning figures of 4-38 in the first match at the same venue, became the sixth Australian bowler to take an ODI hat-trick.
“Faulkner bowled nice today, got a few wickets in the end when they were going (briskly). The damage was probably already done at that point of time,” said Smith.
Starc (3-53) claimed two wickets in the final over to stop Sri Lanka from reaching the 300-run mark, with the hosts losing their last five wickets for 27 runs.
The action now shifts to Dambulla for the third ODI on August 28.