(Reuters) – Quick-fire half centuries from opener Aaron Finch and George Bailey helped Australia to a six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day international in Dambulla, giving the visitors an unassailable 3-1 lead heading into the final ODI.
Sri Lanka, who won the toss and elected to bat on a dry wicket, laboured to 212 in their 50 overs, but Australia chased down the target with 114 balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, fast bowler John Hastings rattled through Sri Lanka’s batting line-up, picking up six wickets for 45 runs in his 10 overs. Opener Dhananjaya de Silva was the only Sri Lankan batsman to offer any resistance to the Australian attack, bringing up his maiden ODI half-century before being dismissed for 76 after mistiming a pull shot off Hastings to Finch at midwicket.
Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews, who limped off with a calf injury mid-way through his knock, returned to chalk up a battling 40, but Hastings picked him off with the last ball of the innings after he skied a shot to Bailey at backward point.
After the record-breaking ODI between England and Pakistan on Tuesday, Finch had his eye on even more. He smashed eight fours and three sixes en route to an 18-ball half century, equalling the record for the fastest ODI 50 by an Australian.
But soon after launching a monstrous six to bring up his milestone, the Aussie opener was adjudged lbw on 55 off the bowling of Sachith Pathirana.
Left-arm spinner Pathirana brought more cheer for the home crowd when he dismissed Usman Khawaja for a second-ball duck and then bowled captain David Warner to cap a productive spell of three wickets in five deliveries.
Bailey steadied the ship for Australia, sharing a 100-run partnership with Travis Head for the fourth wicket to put the visitors in control. Head eventually fell leg before to Dilruwan Perera on 40.
Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade smashed a six over long on to seal the series win for the visitors, with Bailey unbeaten on 90.