A Sri Lankan batsman follows through his pull shot as the ball at the edge of picture rockets to the boundary.

Sri Lanka beats Australia by six wickets in Colombo to take a 2-1 lead in the ODI series

The Australian team insisted they didn’t err by going without a frontline leg-spinner after weathering a six-wicket defeat by a record-breaking Sri Lanka stand in Colombo.

Australia looked in box seat after Travis Head helped them to 6-291 a slow wicket, before the hosts (4-292) were barely nine troubled on the pursuit, with balls to spare, on Sunday.

Pathum Nissanka hit his maiden ODI century, with 137 in the chase, while Kusal Mendis managed 87 in a 170-run second-wicket stand between the pair before retiring, hurt, with cramp.

That helped Sri Lanka to their biggest-ever chase against Australia, as they went 2-1 up in the five-match series with back-to-back wins over the tourists for the first time in 20 years.

However, beyond this bilateral series, bigger questions continue to remain around Australia’s bowling structure ahead of next year’s World Cup in India.

With Adam Zampa back home on paternity leave, Australia decided not to play Mitchell Swepson.

They were also not helped by a dewy surface, at night, after initially winning the toss and batting, as the pitch sped up and turned less in the second innings.

Matthew Kuhnemann (0-61 from 10 overs) and Glenn Maxwell (1-44) were left as Australia’s chief spinners, with Cameron Green (0-31 off five overs) preferred as a pace-bowling all-rounder ahead of Swepson.

Where the Sri Lankans were able to get great purchase out of their wrist-spinner, Jeffrey Vanderlay, and his return of 3-49, the tourists were forced to turn to Marnus Labuschagne (0-49) for seven overs of leg breaks.

“You can always look back at a lot of decisions and wonder what was the right one,” captain Aaron Finch said.

“We still felt that was the right combination to go for on this wicket with how slow it looked.

“You saw in the first half of the game it was very stoppy and turned quite a bit. We thought it would continue to do that but it played a bit better under lights.”


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