How Gunaratne pulled off an epic T20 win
- Author: Santos West Feb 20, 2017,
Feb 20, 2017, 0:30
Moises Henriques (56 not out), Michael Klinger (43) and Ben Dunk (32 off 14 balls) had earlier provided the bulk of Australia's 173, a total which had seemed set to be much higher when they reached 113 for two with nearly seven overs in hand after being sent into bat.
The 18th over bowled by Faulkner (2-32) saw Kulasekara (12) smash two boundaries but the decisive blow came in the penultimate over delivered by Henriques (0-38) in which Gunaratne plundered three consecutive sixes followed by a boundary leaving Sri Lanka 14 to get in the final over bowled by Tye (3-37).
Gunaratane put a up a quick-fire 52 that got Sri Lanka back on track.
Sri Lanka and Australia clashed at the MCG in a thrilling contest in their first T20 against each other.
"It was like playing at home away from home", Gunaratne said of their fans.
Sri Lanka stumbled early as their top order collapsed, losing five wickets for 41 runs in the first five overs. The second string Australian side featured a few new faces like Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner and Michael Klinger, for example - an opportunity to represent their country. The required rate then climbed to ten by the halfway stage, but Gunaratne felt there always seemed a "good chance of winning" so he plotted Sri Lanka's way out of the hole they had got themselves in.
A spirited 52-run partnership between Gunaratne and Chamara Kapugedera steadied the innings, however, before the 31-year-old Gunaratne took charge to guide his side to an unlikely victory. Six runs required. Watch the dramatic finish at the 'G!
"I was always looking to target those small boundaries" he said. "It all paid off and I'm very happy, because all I thought of was finishing the match".
"Asela's was an wonderful innings", Sri Lanka captain Upul Tharanga said.
Tharanga was relieved to have won, and said: "Thanks to the Sri Lankan supporters".
Although the result was a disappointing one for Australia, Finch said he was pleased with the way Geelong supported Kardinia Oval's global debut. "He was hitting such good bowlers - the Australian bowlers have recently played the Big Bash, so they were on rhythm".
"Altogether we have played so much competitive cricket in T20s - not just here", he said. I think it doesn't matter where we play.
"You also have to be able to defend in that situation as well and unfortunately we didn't do that".