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Mendis fifty helps Sri Lanka to avoid clean sweep against Australia

20 Feb, 2022
Kusal Mendis batted positively and struck an unbeaten 69 off 58 balls. File photo
Kusal Mendis batted positively and struck an unbeaten 69 off 58 balls. File photo

Opener Kusal Mendis struck an unbeaten 69 off 58 balls to help secure a consolation five-wicket victory for Sri Lanka, who fired with both bat and ball against Australia in the fifth and final Twenty20 international on Sunday.

The hosts posted a middling 154-6 after opting to bat in Melbourne, but the Sri Lankan batsmen finally found their feet to reach 155-5 with one ball remaining, ending the series 4-1 in Australia's favour.

Mendis batted positively, but sensibly, with captain Dasun Shanaka (35) in an 83-run partnership which powered Sri Lanka to their first win against Australia in any format since 2017.

Seamer Kane Richardson took 2-28, but Australia's second-string bowling attack never looked threatening after conceding 54-2 in the powerplay.

"When we come to the World Cup (in October), we will be really prepared," Shanaka said. "We could have done better in this series."

Reduced to 13-2 after five overs, Australia struggled to build any partnerships of substance as Dushmantha Chameera (2-30) and Lahiru Kumara (2-34) troubled the batsmen with pace.

Aaron Finch's summer, in which the skipper scored 78 runs at a strike rate of 92, ended with a whimper when he was caught on eight.

Matthew Wade struck 43 not out in the back end of the innings to drag his side to a competitive score.

"It (154) probably just wasn't quite enough at the end," Finch said.

"Sri Lanka are a very dangerous side and to win four games in a row was really good."

Australia now prepare for their first test on Pakistani soil since 1998, scheduled to begin on March 4, while Sri Lanka's next assignment is a T20 series in India starting on Thursday.