Australian captain Steven Smith (58) and Aaron Finch (56) played important hands for Australia as they finally managed to script their first win on a nightmarish tour, winning the first One Day International against Sri Lanka by three wickets in Colombo on Sunday.
On a slow, dry pitch, two excellent bowling displays from left-armers James Faulkner (4/38) and Mitchell Starc (3/32) restricted Sri Lanka to 227/8. Australia got across the line with three wickets and 19 balls to spare.
Smith won the toss and elected to bowl and was backed by the prolific Starc straight away. Kusal Perera was bowled off the fourth ball of the match. Yet again, Kusal Mendis staged a fightback, scoring 67, along with vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal, who scored 80.
Mendis lived dangerously and survived early on when Finch dropped a sitter at deep square-leg, losing the ball in the sunshine. Faulkner dismissed Mendis and Angelo Mathews in the 30th over of the Sri Lankan innings, as the hosts were pegged back.
Dhananjaya de Silva became Starc’s 100th ODI scalp, as the Australian fast bowler became the quickest to get to landmark, taking only 52 matches to do so. A cracking 37-ball fifty from Finch, clearing the ropes with aplomb, got Australia off to a good start in their chase of 228.
Smith came in and exorcised some of the ghosts of the Test series with his patient 58 off 92 balls. The Australian skipper held the innings together, playing risk-free cricket. When he departed with the score at 190/4, Australia seemed to be heading towards a comfortable victory. However, they stumbled towards the end, losing three quick wickets before scampering home with 19 balls to spare.
Australia 228/7 in 46.5 overs (Steven Smith 58, Aaron Finch 56; Dilruwan Perera 3/48, Lakshan Sandakan 2/33) defeated Sri Lanka 227/8 in 50 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 80, Kusal Mendis 67; James Faulkner 4/38, Mitchell Starc 3/32) by three wickets