That was striking as good as you'll see - Finch lauds Gunaratne


Australia skipper Aaron Finch hailed Asela Gunaratne for producing "a hell of an innings" after the Sri Lanka all-rounder secured a remarkable Twenty20 victory for Sri Lanka in Geelong.

The tourists wrapped up the three-match series with a game to spare on Sunday, thanks to Gunaratne - a half-centurion in the first T20I - blasting 37 from the last 10 deliveries he faced to finish unbeaten on 84 in a sensational finish at Kardinia Park.

"It's a tough loss to take," said Finch in his post-match news conference. "I thought we had enough runs [173] on the wicket and the way that we bowled throughout the powerplay and middle overs was outstanding.

"But credit to Gunaratne, he played a hell of an innings."

Moises Henriques was taken for three sixes and a four by Sri Lanka's match-winner in the penultimate over, before Gunaratne hit another maximum and two fours off Andrew Tye to round off an astonishing performance.

"The plan was [to take] pace off and [bowl] wide," revealed Finch. "If he wanted to go to the short boundary over the leg side, make him really fetch it with no pace on the ball.

"And jeez, he hit some clean, didn't he? That was striking as good as you'll see. For a guy to be hit over fine-leg and over mid-off, they're pretty rare skills to be able to do both. And he hasn't mishit a ball in two games now.

"I felt all along that we had to get him out to win, or get him off strike a little bit more and we probably struggled to do that for the last three overs. We couldn't seem to bowl enough balls at [Nuwan] Kulasekara and then [Lasith] Malinga. But when you've got a guy who's in like that, it's so hard to defend."

Sri Lanka's Dilshan Munaweera also lauded Gunaratne, adding: "The way Asela played, it was just amazing to see. For the last couple of years, I haven't seen such a good knock and it came on Australian soil in a series-deciding match. It was unbelievable."

Seamer Jhye Richardson impressed on debut for Australia, prompting former England captain Michael Vaughan to suggest on Twitter that the youngster will feature in the 2017-18 Ashes.

When Finch was asked whether he thought that was likely, the opener replied with a smile: "I'm not a selector, otherwise I'd be playing in the Ashes as well."