Glenn Maxwell and Josh Inglis nullified Sri Lanka's hopes of breaking duck in the T20I series as Australia went up 4-0 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday (February 18). Sri Lanka had a lowly 139/8 to defend but their bowlers made a bright start in the PowerPlay, reducing Australia to 49 for 3 in the ninth over. Maxwell and Inglis joined forces to resuscitate the innings, and eventually turned what seemed like a tricky chase at one point to a rather comfortable one in the end. The hosts completed the chase with 11 balls and six wickets to spare.
Sri Lanka's troubles all series have been linked to their batting, and Pathum Nissanka looked to set that right on Friday. He and Danushka Gunathilaka started briskly in the PowerPlay and despite the latter's dismissal, the innings continued to flow seamlessly at a fair clip thanks to Nissanka's shot-making and Kusal Mendis joining in the fun.
Sri Lanka got to 73 for 1 at the halfway stage, their best effort in 10 overs in the four T20Is in the series. Unfortunately for them, though, that's where Australia's turnaround began. Nissanka and Mendis took on Glenn Maxwell's arm by trying to sprint across for a second run after hitting to him at long on.
Maxwell, however, caught Mendis short of his crease with a direct hit, giving Australia a much-needed breakthrough at that stage. Charith Asalanka brought his trademark exuberance to Sri Lanka's innings, taking on Adam Zampa in the 15th over to get his side past the 100-run mark, but a collapse ensued.
Asalanka fell trying to hit out against Jhye, and Nissanka departed giving Zampa the charge, after which the lower-order crumbled. Sri Lanka went from 110 for 2 in the 16th over to 122 for 8 in the 19th. Chamika Karunaratne saw through Kane Richardson's change of pace, carting him for two fours and a six in a 17-run final over that pushed Sri Lanka to 139 for 8.
Based on how the first half hour of Australia's chase went, it felt like Sri Lanka may have actually scored enough on what was an uncharacteristically slow surface at the MCG. Australia stuck with their opening experiment of Ashton Agar, who struggled to get going against the offspin of Maheesh Theekshana, while Lahiru Kumara attempted to ping him back with excess pace.
Ben McDermott didn't enjoy much success with run making either, and ended up departing with a soft return catch to Theekshana in the fifth over. Agar played out 23 balls in the PowerPlay, scoring just 17 runs as the dot-ball pressure ramped up. Sri Lanka's quicks kept the foot on the pedal in the post-PowerPlay phase too, as Aaron Finch and Agar fell trying to break out of the rut.
At 50 for 3 in 9 overs, Australia were on shaky ground and in desperate need of a quick bail out to transfer the pressure back on the bowling side that had its tail up. Up stepped Josh Inglis, starting off by smashing leg spinner Jeffrey Vandersay for two fours - one a reverse hit - in the 10th over.
As Maxwell settled in, Inglis took control of the proceedings, and continued to get boundaries that helped dwarf the equation further. The duo played out Theekshana in his fourth over and targeted the quicks. The tables completely turned in a four-over span where Australia went from 73/3 in 11 to 109/3 in 15, with Maxwell too starting to cut loose.
Dushmantha Chameera had Inglis nicking to the keeper in the 16th over, but not before the Aussie batsman added 40 off just 20 deliveries. Maxwell took over from that point on to ensure there were no late and dramatic turnarounds for Sri Lanka. Off the first ball of the penultimate over, Maxwell secured the victory, while finishing on an unbeaten 48 off 38 deliveries.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 139/8 in 20 overs (Pathum Nissanka 46, Kusal Mendis 27; Jhye Richardson 2-20) lost to Australia 143/4 in 18.1 overs (Glenn Maxwell 48*, Josh Inglis 40; Lahiru Kumara 2-22) by 6 wickets