Perth, Feb 10: Australia held their nerve to pip Sri Lanka by five runs for their second successive victory of the tri-series here at the WACA Ground on Friday.
[Scorecard: Australia Vs Sri Lanka, Perth, Feb 10]
Angelo Mathews' brilliance towards the end could not give his side victory as they fell short by five runs in the final over of the contest. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 226 in 49.5 overs in pursuit of 232.
At 180 for nine, Australia looked to have got the game in their grasp when Mathews fought on and turned it into an exciting finish.
With 18 needed off the final over bowled by left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc, Mathews hit the first two for a four and a six. But he was off strike after the third ball with a single. Last man Dhammika Prasad did his duty by taking a single to hand Mathews the strike with 6 runs needed off the final two deliveries.
Starc kept his cool and his short ball was skied towards long-on by Mathews where Daniel Christian completed the catch which broke Sri Lankan hearts and resulted in jubilation for the home team.
Mathews made a fine 76-ball 64 with four boundaries and a six and partnered with Prasad for a record 46 runs for the 10th wicket. This was the best 10th wicket partnership for Sri Lanka against Australia in ODIs. It was Mathews' ninth ODI half century.
Mathews' lone battle could not give his team their first victory in the tri-series and now they have lost both their games. They had lost by four wickets to India at the same venue on Wednesday.
Australian captain Michael Clarke was Man-of-the-match for his half century.
In the end it turned out to be a battle of bowlers. It was supposed to be a perfect batting strip but Australian batsmen faltered against a good bowling and fielding effort to be dismissed for 231 in 49.1 overs. Australian bowlers were even better than their opponents, with left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty troubling the batsmen with turn as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 226 in 49.5 overs.
Doherty finished with fine figures of 2/24 from 10 overs. His dismissal of Lahiru Thirimanne was outstanding. A ball that hit a patch on the off turned sharply to clip the legstump as the left-handed Thirimanne was stunned to be bowled through the gate in this fashion.
There were question marks over Doherty coming into this game against a batting line-up known for playing spin very well. But the 29-year-old put to rest those doubts with exceptional bowling.
Starc started Australia's domination when he had Upul Tharanga caught behind by Matthew Wade for five in the fourth over. Sri Lanka lost their first wicket at 11.
Number three batsman Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan were going well adding 50 runs for the second wicket but Sangakkara's run out turned things in Australia's favour. And from that point, there was no looking back for Australia as they kept taking wickets at regular intervals.
Towards the end, all-rounder Mathews was left to fight a lone battle with the wickets tumbling at the other end.
The problem for Sri Lanka was losing too many wickets in the middle of the innings. Mathews, batting at seven, had no regular batsman for company.
Earlier, Sri Lankan bowlers kept Australian batsmen in check as the Islanders restricted the home team to 231 all out in 49.1 overs.
Pacemen Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dhammika Prasad, Angelo Mathews and offspinner Sachithra Senanayake claimed two wickets apiece as Australian batsmen were never allowed to score freely.
Only Clarke (57) reached his 50th ODI half century while the next best was from opener David Warner (34).
Australia and India meet in the next clash at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and invited Australia to bat.
Australia are going in with the same team that won against India last Sunday while Sri Lanka made one change to their line-up that did duty against India on Wednesday.
Offspinner Sachithra Senanayake has come in place of Thisara Perera. Senanayake, who turned 25 on Thursday, has played two ODIs so far. He made his debut against South Africa last month and has taken one wicket.
It is a fresh 22-yard strip at the WACA after India and Sri Lanka had played on another pitch on Wednesday.
During the pitch report, former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said it is a good wicket for batting while former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody felt it will have extra bounce and bowlers will enjoy.
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Ricky Ponting, Dan Christian, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dhammika Prasad.
Umpires: Nigel Llong (England) and Bruce Oxenford (Australia)
Third Umpire: Paul Reiffel (Australia)
Match Referee: Andrew Pycroft (Zimbabwe)