A stand of 83 with captain Dasun Shanaka decided the game after Australia struggled in both powerplays
Sri Lanka 155 for 5 (Mendis 69 not out, Shanaka 35) beat Australia 154 for 6 (Wade 4*) by 5 wickets
It was a deserved victory for Sri Lanka, who have tried hard in the series only to rue inconsistency as they snapped an eight match T20I losing streak in Australia. Australia’s attempts at a first 5-0 T20I series victory were thwarted in their final match of the home summer.
With a 5.10pm local start, two hours earlier than usual, the family friendlier time slot reeled in 17,556 fans – compared to 13,000 who attended the MCG on Friday – in the highest attendance of the series.
Mendis and Shanaka star for Sri Lanka in chase
Even though they lost in-form Pathum Nissanka and debutant Kamil Mishara early, Sri Lanka were all guns blazing and it paid dividends as they smashed their best powerplay of the series yielding 54 runs.
Charith Asalanka started sublimely until a ham-fisted execution of a premediated scoop against Ashton Agar’s first delivery ended a promising knock. It put the pressure on opener Mendis, who was up to the task as he notched his first T20I half-century since September 2019. He found support through Shanaka who impressively targeted star spinner Adam Zampa down the ground.
It came down to the last over with Sri Lanka favoured needing nine runs and Shanaka effectively sealed the result with a huge six over deep square leg. He fell next ball with Sri Lanka needing one run with two balls left but Chamika Karunaratne held his nerve to ensure the tourists tasted victory.
A firing Mendis noticeably strengthens Sri Lanka’s batting and looms as their key batter at the T20 World Cup. The 27-year-old missed the opening two matches due to Covid-19 having returned from a lengthy suspension for a Covid breach during Sri Lanka’s tour of the UK in the middle of last year.
As he showed here, Mendis is more than capable of conjuring match-winning knocks under pressure.
Chameera relishes Australian conditions
It was a complete performance for Sri Lanka, whose attack has mostly impressed and numerously put Australia under pressure during the series.
It was a fiery Chameera’s best performance of an encouraging series, which yielded seven wickets, as he relished quicker Australian conditions in a sign of what could be ahead later in the year. Sri Lanka should feel like they can inflict damage at the T20 World Cup with an attack well equipped for Australian conditions.
Finch and McDermott fail at the top
Australia have experimented with their batting this series, but the trialling of spinning allrounder Agar as a pinch-hitting opener ended after two matches.
He made just 3 from 13 before falling meekly and has not made a strong enough claim for a permanent spot in a line-up missing T20 World Cup winners David Warner, Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith.
Fringe batter Inglis had staked his claims and started fast with fluent strokes through his favoured mid-off area. However, the No. 3 fell on 23 leading to a middle-order collapse where Australia slumped to 82 for 5.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth