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Kusal Mendis 69 helps Sri Lanka win by five wickets; avoid series sweep against Australia

Melbourne : A superb 69 from Kusal Mendis helped Sri Lanka secure a five-wicket victory over Australia in the fifth and final T20I at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.The win also meant that Sri Lanka signed off from the tour on a high by avoiding a clean sweep. They will now fly to India to participate in a three-match T20I series starting from February 24 in Lucknow.Chasing 155, Sri Lanka lost two wickets in the powerplay but managed to get 54 runs off the first six overs. Mendis played a lot of shots in the start of the chase but dropped anchor after power-play ended. Charith Asalanka played some aggressive shots in a quickfire 9-ball 20.Mendis was involved in run-outs of debutants Kamil Mishara and Janith Liyanage. At 71/4 in nine overs, Sri Lanka were under a bit of pressure despite being ahead of the asking rate. Mendis then joined hands with skipper Dasun Shanaka (35) to resurrect the chase.The duo mixed caution with aggression nicely for an 83-run partnership. Shanaka pulled a monstrous six off Kane Richardson in the final over but was bowled the very next ball.

There was no scope for a late twist in the match as Chamika Karunaratne hit the winning runs to vacant square leg to seal the match in Sri Lanka’s favour with a ball to spare. Mendis remained unbeaten till the end and was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’.Earlier, Matthew Wade’s unbeaten effort of 43 off just 27 balls, combining big-hitting with some innovative strokes, meant Australia were able to go above 150 in their 20 overs. Pushed into bowling first, Sri Lanka kept a tight leash on Australia, resulting in openers Aaron Finch and Ben McDermott eventually getting frustrated and being dismissed within the first six overs.Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis got good starts but got out without making a big knock. While Dushmantha Chameera took out Inglis, Lahiru Kumara dismissed Stoinis and Maxwell in one over.Wade and Daniel Sams (18) put on a 64-run stand in quick time to infuse some momentum into the slog overs of Australia’s innings. But with vociferous crowd support along with good showings with bat and ball meant Sri Lanka saw off the prospect of a clean sweep with a consolation win.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 155/5 in 19.5 overs (Kusal Mendis 69 not out, Dasun Shanaka 35; Kane Richardson 2/28, Ashton Agar 1/19) beat Australia 154/6 in 20 overs (Matthew Wade 43 not out, Glenn Maxwell 29; Dushmantha Chameera 2/30, Lahiru Kumara 2/34) by five wickets.



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