PALLEKELE: Skipper David Warner’s fluent century and a disciplined bowling effort powered Australia to a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the fifth one-day international in Pallekele as the visitors took the series 4- 1 yesterday. Australia, who took an unassailable 3-1 lead in Dambulla on Wednesday, rode on a record 132-run partnership between Warner and George Bailey (44) to chase down 196 in 43 overs on a sluggish pitch.
Earlier pace spearhead Mitchell Starc led the visiting attack with three wickets to bowl out Sri Lanka, who elected to bat first, for a modest 195 in 40.2 overs. But it was Warner’s 106, which came off 126 balls with the help of nine boundaries, that thwarted the Sri Lankan attack from posing any threats to the visiting batting. Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera, who shared the new ball with pacer Suranga Lakmal, struck twice in his first spell to get the wickets of opener Matthew Wade and Usman Khawaja.
Wade was caught behind for three while Khawaja was out for six as Australia were in early trouble at 25 for two in 5.5 overs. Warner and Bailey then got down to the grind as Sri Lanka unleashed their spin force on a slow pitch.
The left-handed Warner, who completed his seventh ODI ton in his 79th match, became the first Australian batsman to record a century in Sri Lanka. Bailey, who remained the highest run-getter in the series with 270 runs in five matches, played the sheet anchor’s role to perfection. But he was denied his third half-century of the series after Dilruwan Perera, who returned with figures of 3-51, trapped the batsman lbw.
Off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva claimed two wickets including that of Warner to delay Australia’s win as James Faulkner and John Hastings saw the team through. The ODI win comes as a welcome relief for the visitors who suffered their first series whitewash against Sri Lanka in the three Tests last month. The two teams now head into the two-match Twenty20 series starting September 6 at the same venue. — AFP