Melbourne: Thisara Perera produced an outstanding all-round performance to help Sri Lanka register a three-run win over Australia in a rain-affected Twenty20 International on Monday, securing a 2-0 victory in the series that sparked animosity between the two sides.
Put into bat, Mahela Jayawardene (61 not out) featured in fifty-plus partnerships with Jeevan Mendis (25) and Perera (35 not out) to help Sri Lanka overcome a slow start and post 161 for four at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Perera then did the star turn by bowling a pressure-laden final over to help his team to victory under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Australia lost both their openers cheaply but captain George Bailey (45) and Shaun Marsh (47 not out) guided them to 60 for two in 10 overs before rain led to the loss of five overs’ play.
Australia were required to score 122 runs from 15 overs under the revised target and 18 runs from the last over from Perera, who removed Bailey with the second ball and followed it with a waist-high full toss which was adjudged a no-ball.
Marsh managed a single off the next delivery and watched from the other end as Maxwell hit two straight boundaries to raise hopes of a memorable victory before failing to put bat to the ball at the death.
The match ended with angry scenes as players from both teams hurled abuses even during the traditional congratulatory handshakes.
Sri Lanka were displeased that Australian umpires Simon Fry and John Ward ruled the match should continue after an almost 90 minute rain delay, which left the outfield at the Melbourne Cricket Ground damp and slippery.
The fourth ODI between the teams at Sydney last week was abandoned in very similar circumstances when Sri Lanka were in a strong position to win both the match and the series. But the match was abandoned and Australia won the fifth match to tie the series 2-2.
Sri Lanka would have won the match clearly under the Duckworth-Lewis system if the umpires had abandoned the match when rain intervened after the 10th over of the Australian innings.