Kusal Mendis and captain Dasun Shanaka shared an 83-run partnership to guide Sri Lanka to a consolation five-wicket win against Australia in the fifth and final Twenty20 match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Mendis made 69 off 58 balls, with five boundaries and a six, and batted throughout the innings to help Sri Lanka overcome some early wobbles, including two run-outs, before he and Shanaka (35 off 31 balls) ran down Australia’s 154-6 in the final over.
It was Mendis’ highest score in a T20 international match and helped break an eight-match losing streak for the tourists in Australia to the delight of the thousands of Sri Lanka fans at the MCG.
Shanaka played a near flawless supporting role and made the result all but certain with a towering six over midwicket in the final over off Kane Richardson to level the scores. He was bowled next ball but Chamika Karunaratne was able to bring up the winning run off Daniel Sams, who replaced an injured Richardson for the final two balls.
“The boys played really well throughout the series, made a statement that when we come for the World Cup (in October) we’ll be prepared,” Shanaka said. “(Kusal) has been an outstanding player throughout.
“We should keep on giving opportunities to the right players.”
Matthew Wade’s unbeaten 43 off 27 balls and a 64-run partnership with allrounder Daniel Sams (18 off 15 balls) helped Australia recover from a sluggish start to get to a competitive 154-6 after captain Aaron Finch won the toss and decided to bat first.
Australia lost both Finch (8) and Ben McDermott (3) early as Sri Lanka’s bowlers dominated the power play overs before Glenn Maxwell (29) and Josh Inglis (23) helped the home side generate some momentum.
Dushmantha Chameera returned 2-30 and Lahiru Kumara had 2-34 to lead Sri Lanka’s attack.
The tourists gave debuts to opening batsman Kamil Mishara and and allrounder Janith Liyanage, with veterans Dinesh Chandimal and Danushka Gunathilaka missing out.
Australia won the series 4-1, having won the first game by 20 runs and the second in a Super Over in Sydney after the scores were level at the end of the regulation overs.
Australia won the third game by six wickets on Tuesday in Canberra and again by six wickets in Friday’s match at the MCG.