Glorious Gunaratne stuns Australia to seal series for Sri Lanka


An extraordinary innings of 84 not out from Asela Gunaratne enabled Sri Lanka to claim a second successive last-ball triumph over Australia and victory in their three-match Twenty20 series.

Australia appeared certain to level the rubber at 1-1 on Sunday and set up a decider in Adelaide when they reduced Sri Lanka to 40-5 in reply to 173 all out at Geelong's Kardinia Park - a venue hosting international cricket for the first time.

The tourists still required 36 with two overs remaining, only for Gunaratne - a half-centurion in the first T20I - to launch a brutal assault that turned the match on its head.

Gunaratne brought up his fifty with the first of three successive sixes off Moises Henriques in the penultimate over, and completed his individual rescue mission by taking Andrew Tye for one maximum and two fours after Nuwan Kulasekara had been dismissed.

As a result, Sri Lanka were able to celebrate the most unlikely of two-wicket wins, with Gunaratne's 46-ball knock likely to linger long in the memory of those who witnessed it.

Australia, who are being coached by Justin Langer in this series with Darren Lehmann overseeing the Test squad in India, were in total control for much of the run-chase.

Ashton Turner, James Faulkner and debutant Jhye Richardson each struck in their first overs, before Tye went one better by removing Dilshan Munaweera and Milinda Siriwardana with successive deliveries in the fifth over.

However, Gunaratne steadied the ship alongside Chamara Kapugedera (32), before accelerating in devastating fashion just when the match appeared to be over as a contest.

All bar one of the 38 runs accrued by Sri Lanka in the last 12 balls came from Gunaratne, who wrapped up victory by smashing Tye over cover with two needed off the last ball and may now attract significant interest in Monday's Indian Premier League auction.

Earlier, Henriques had top-scored for Australia with an unbeaten 56, having been dropped on 19 by Kapugedera.

There were also handy innings of contrasting pace from Michael Klinger (43 off 37) and the recalled Ben Dunk (32 off 14), before Lasith Malinga (2-31) and Kulasekara (4-31) claimed a flurry of late wickets, the latter striking thrice in the final over.