In-form Mendis inspires Sri Lanka to ODI triumph


Kusal Mendis scored his fifth half-century in only nine one-day international appearances as Sri Lanka recorded an 82-run win over Australia to level the series.

The 21-year-old, who hit 67 in Sunday's three-wicket series-opening loss, went two better on Wednesday as he scored at a run a ball, with Dinesh Chandimal (48), Angelo Mathews (57) and Kusal Perera (54) also making valuable contributions to the hosts' 288 all out.

Australia, whose bowling effort included a hat-trick spread across two overs for James Faulkner (3-45), failed to recover from a slow start as opening pair David Warner and Aaron Finch chalked up just five runs between them.

Yet the tourists, for whom Matthew Wade top scored with 76, had started with a bang, accounting for Danushka Gunathilaka and Tillakaratne Dilshan to leave Sri Lanka - who won the toss - on 12-2.

It was the third-wicket stand of Mendis and Chandimal that got the hosts, and the Colombo crowd, really going.

Mendis was aggressive and expansive in compiling his impressive innings, which included nine fours - the pick of which was driven down the ground with the confidence of a man in form.

Faulkner, who took four wickets at the weekend, kicked off his treble by taking the scalp of Kusal Perera with the last ball of the 46th over, while Mathews and Thisara Perera (12) fell to the first two deliveries of the 48th.

Mitchell Starc (3-53) cleaned up the tail, but Australia lost any momentum they may have taken back out into the middle when Warner and Finch went cheaply.

Despite making starts, Steven Smith (30) and George Bailey (27) failed to build, with the excellent Amila Aponso (4-18) seeing both off in just his second ODI outing.

It was Wade who posed the greatest threat to Sri Lanka's bid for victory, but when he was caught by Gunathilaka and Australia were six down with 10 overs to go and still requiring 105 more to win, the writing was on the wall.

There was no resistance down the order as Sri Lanka recorded their biggest victory in runs over Australia, setting them up nicely for Sunday's third ODI in Dambulla.