Hambantota, Aug 17: Riding on a superb century from Upul Tharanga and some clinical bowling performances from Lasith Malinga and debutant Eranga, Sri Lanka beat Australia by 78 runs in the third ODI between the two teams in the ongoing five-match series.
Chasing a target of 287 runs, Australia's innings was derailed at the onset as Malinga accounted for the dangerous Shane Watson in the third over. The Sri Lankan bowler had him caught by Jayawardene for just five runs of nine deliveries. Eranga, playing in his first ODI then cleaned up Bradd Haddin with a peach of a delivery and reduced Australia to 18/2 in the 6.2 overs.
Eranga, then struck again to catch Ricky Ponting of his own bowling. Australia's chase was down in the shambles before skipper Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey put on 71 runs for the fourth wicket. It was at this stage that Australia appeared to have any chance of getting close to Sri Lanka's target.
But then, Sri Lankan skipper brought Malinga back and the right arm slinger responded by removing Michael Clarke for 46. What followed then was utter chaos for Australia as none of them with the exception of Michael Hussey got going.
In the end the Aussies were dismissed for 208 in 44.2 overs. Michael Hussey top-scored with a 76-ball 63 and was the third of Malinga's five victims.
Earlier, Australia's skipper Michael Clarke won the toss and decided to field first. The Sri Lankan innings was off to a flier as both Tharanga and Dilshan milked the Aussie bowlers with amazing ease.
Tharanga's fourth ODI century was well-complemented by Dilshan (55), Sangakkara (49) and Jayawardene. The Australian bowlers did otherwise to fine to restrict Sri Lanka to 286 as at one point they threatened to breach the 300-run mark.