Kulasekara sparks Sri Lanka ODI victory

(Reuters) – Sri Lanka laboured to a four-wicket victory after right-arm pacer Nuwan Kulasekara destroyed Australia with a fine display of swing bowling in the third one-day international in Brisbane  yesterday.

Australia’s top and middle order batsmen capitulated before Kulasekara’s inswing while Lasith Malinga (3-22) 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, puts Sri Lanka 2-1 up in the five-match series. Sydney hosts the fourth one-dayer 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 (3-11) 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 Tillakaratne Dishan 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 and Australia captain Michael Clarke was soon left to rue his decision to bat first as the batting lineup came unstuck.

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.

Matthew Wade denied him a hat-trick but that was hardly solace for the hosts as Kulasekara returned to peg back Clarke’s middle stump and push one through Moises Henriques’s gate for his first five-wicket haul, also earning him the man of the match award.

After Kulasekara had exposed Australia’s lower order, Malinga ran through the tail, removing Johnson, Wade and Clint McKay.

Starc and Doherty added 34 runs for the last wicket before Shaminda Eranga dismissed Doherty to end the Australian innings in the 27th over.

Number nine batsman Starc took a couple of blows on his helmet but hung on to take Australia past their previous lowest total of 70 that came on two occasions, against England in Birmingham in 1977 and New Zealand at Adelaide in 1986.

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