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Lankans win a thriller

Nuwan Kulasekara

Brisbane: Sri Lanka laboured to a four-wicket victory even after right-arm pacer Nuwan Kulasekara destroyed Australia with a fine display of swing bowling, in the third one-day International, here, on Friday.

Australia’s top and middle order batsmen capitulated before Kulasekara’s swing, while Lasith Malinga (three for 22) polished off the tail to bowl out the hosts for 74 in 26.4 overs.

The win, though not as convincing as it should have been, put Sri Lanka 2-1 up in the five-match series. Sydney hosts the fourth ODI on Sunday.

For Australia, only Mitchell Starc (22 not out) and Xavier Doherty (15) managed double digits, adding 34 runs for the last wicket to take the home side past their lowest ODI total ever.

On a day when ball dominated bat and not a single six was hit, the Sri Lankan batsmen had their problems too and wobbled early on in their chase.

Mitchell Johnson (three for 11) blew away their top order, while Starc claimed a couple as Sri Lanka lost six wickets before scrambling over the line in 20 overs.

Kushal Perera was unbeaten on 22, while Tillekaratne Dilshan also contributed as many runs.

It was a brave effort by the Australian bowlers after they were let down by their batting colleagues earlier in the day.

Angelo Mathews drew first blood with his seventh delivery when he removed opener David Warner. Australia captain Michael Clarke was soon left to rue his decision to bat first as the batting line-up came crashing down.

Right-arm pacer Kulasekara tasted his first success when skipper Mahela Jayawardene took a sharp, low catch in the second slip to dismiss the other opener Phil Hughes.

Kulasekara was on a hat-trick in his next over when he removed Hussey and followed it with a delivery that swung a long way to trap the scoreless George Bailey leg before.