Australia took a 2-1 lead in the five-match One-Day International series against Sri Lanka after winning the third game by two wickets on Sunday. Sri Lanka put on 226 on the board after batting first, propelled by a solid century from Dinesh Chandimal (102 off 130 balls) and Tillakaratne Dilshan's 42 off 65, in what was his final ODI innings. But it proved to be insufficient on a pitch that eased out over the course of the day. Despite losing a flurry of late wickets, Australia got past the finish line by two wickets, with George Bailey (70 from 99 balls) balls leading the way.
All the Australian strike bowlers – pacers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, John Hastings, James Faulkner and leg-spinner Adam Zampa – effected wickets at regular intervals. Zampa (3/38) from his quota of overs yet again had a terrific outing.
Chandimal was again Sri Lanka's go-to man, handling pressure with minimum fuss. The Lankan vice-captain's success in the recent past – notching his sixth score over 50 in seven ODI matches – has come from adopting an extremely simple approach: dabbing the ball around and rotating the strike while waiting for the bad deliveries from the faster bowlers to strike the odd boundary. Most of the centurion's runs were through singles, showing his team what it took to score runs on a slow pitch.
However, apart from the departing Dilshan, there was little resistance from the rest of the Lankan batsmen, who folded meekly. With Steven Smith going home early, David Warner, in his first act as stand-in captain in a full international fixture, marshalled his troops well, keeping his foot firmly on the throttle throughout.
Australia's top order has been as brittle as Sri Lanka's, and Warner had yet another failure with the bat. Dilshan's fielding prowess was in full cry as he dived to pouch the chance at point. Shaun Marsh departed through a sharp take from Chandimal at mid-off, picking up the ball centimeters before hit it the ground.
Meanwhile, Aaron Finch was his attacking self. He took on Amila Aponso early on but the left-arm spinner had the last laugh, trapping the batsman leg-before. Travis Head and Bailey picked up the pieces from a tricky situation to haul Australia back in the chase, but Dilruwan Perera foxed the former to end the 62-run partnership.
The slow wicket didn't deter Australia's progress as Matthew Wade continued his good work from the second ODI. Taking a leaf out of Chandimal's book, the Australian wicketkeeper-batsman also never looked ruffled under pressure and was happy to give the strike to Bailey.
The former Australian ODI skipper took ample time to find his feet and grew in confidence as his innings progressed, using the sweep to great effect against the spinners. With the target within touching distance, Wade and Bailey departed. There was some excitement when Faulkner and Starc departed in quick succession, but it was too late for a comeback or a fairytale ending for Dilshan.
Sri Lanka 226 in 49.2 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 102, Tillakaratne Dilshan 42; Adam Zampa 3/38, John Hastings 2/41) lost to Australia 227/8 in 46 overs (George Bailey 70, Matthew Wade 42; Angelo Mathews 2/30, Amila Aponso 2/44) by two wickets.