Kusal Mendis' excellent 69 was influential in helping Sri Lanka beat Australia by five wickets and avoid a 5-0 series whitewash in the final T20I in Melbourne.

Opener Mendis carried his bat, hitting five fours and a six off 58 deliveries as Sri Lanka reached their 155 target with just a ball to spare at the MCG.

Captain Dasun Shanaka made a valuable 35 off 31 before departing to Kane Richardson in the final over, while Charith Asalanka made a swift and important 20 off nine.

Earlier, Australia had posted 154-6 having struggled with the bat early in the innings, Matthew Wade top scoring with 43 not out.

The hosts defended pretty well but ultimately did not have enough runs on the board to secure a clean sweep of the series.


AUSSIES SLOW OFF THE MARK

Australia will defend the T20 World Cup on home soil later this year and have used this series to experiment with a few ideas.

On this occasion here, they struggled to get going with the bat and lost openers Aaron Finch (8) and Ben McDermott (3) cheaply.

Josh Inglis (23) and Glenn Maxwell (29) made starts without posting big numbers and had Wade - who had two fours and two sixes in his 27-ball knock - not contributed then it would have been an even tougher outing.


MAGIC MENDIS

One of the key difference makers was Sri Lanka's aggression in the powerplay. The tourists hit 54 runs for the loss of two wickets, compared to Australia's 22.

Asalanka's cameo certainly gave Sri Lanka momentum, but Mendis earned Player of the Match recognition for a fine performance.

Rohit Sharma was appointed as India's permanent Test captain, as Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were dropped for the series against Sri Lanka. 

Virat Kohli stepped down as skipper following the 2-1 series defeat to South Africa in January, which saw India slip from first to third in the ICC Test rankings. 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced on Saturday that recently appointed white-ball captain Rohit would also take on the Test duties, starting with the two matches against Sri Lanka in March. 

There was no place in the squad for Pujara or Rahane, however. Ishant Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha were also overlooked. 

The quartet will instead contest the Ranji Trophy – India's domestic first-class cricket championship – in a bid to rediscover their form. 

Ravindra Jadeja was included after recovering from injury and Ravichandran Ashwin was named as part of five-spinner attack despite being a fitness concern. 

The Test series will follow a three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka that starts on Thursday. 

Sanju Samson joined Jadeja in returning from injury for that squad, while Kohli and Rishabh Pant were rested. 

Jasprit Bumrah was welcomed back into the fold after being rested for the home limited-overs series against West Indies and received the vice-captaincy for both formats. 

 

India Test squad: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin, KS Bharat, Jasprit Bumrah, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Saurabh Kumar, Priyank Panchal, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Hanuma Vihari, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav.

India T20 squad: Rohit Sharma, Ravi Bishnoi, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Kishan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Sanju Samson, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav.

Australia recovered to claim a six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Friday as they opened up a 4-0 lead in their five-match T20I series.

The hosts elected to bowl first and, despite being without rested trio Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, restricted their opponents to 139-8 off their 20 overs.

Opener Pathum Nissanka top-scored with 46 off 40 balls, while Kusal Mendis added 27 off 21, but it was another underwhelming batting display from the tourists.

Jhye Richardson impressed with figures of 2-20 off his four overs, paving the way for Australia to make it nine T20Is without defeat against Sri Lanka, winning eight of those.

That is despite getting off to a slow start to their response as openers Ashton Agar and Ben McDermott made 19 off 25 balls, before the latter (nine) fell to Maheesh Theekshana.

Aaron Finch was snared by Danushka Gunathilaka for just two runs off the bowling of Lahiru Kumara and Agar (26) was next to go when he top-edged to Mendis.

But star man Glenn Maxwell and Josh Inglis all but ensured there would be no joy for Sri Lanka with their fourth-wicket stand of 71 off 47 balls. 

Inglis went for 40 off 20, leaving Australia needing 20 off 22, and Maxwell got them over the line with his unbeaten 48 to set up a potential whitewash in Sunday's fifth match.


MCGlee for Maxwell

Australia have now won five of their last seven T20Is at the MCG, including the last three in a row – their best run since winning four in a row between 2008 and 2011.

Agar's struggles as a makeshift opener will be of concern, but Maxwell's 48 off 39 balls – a strike rate of 123.1 – meant Sri Lanka's modest target was never of concern.

Pathum shows more promise

Nissanka headed into the game as the only player to score above 100 runs this series against Australia (125) and the 23-year-old was again Sri Lanka's shining light in the fourth T20I.

He helped steer his side to 73-1 at the halfway mark alongside Mendis, yet the tourists still managed to squander a promising opportunity.

Australia took an unassailable 3-0 series lead as Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell guided them to a six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka.

In the third T20I of the five-match series, captain Finch scored 35 and Maxwell struck an entertaining 39 to put Australia in control in Canberra.

Australia's bowlers set the tone, limiting Sri Lanka to 121-6 from their 20 overs, with Kane Richardson (3-21) leading the way.

Danushka Gunathilaka (nine) and Charith Asalanka (six) both fell to Richardson in the third over of Sri Lanka's innings, with the Australia paceman then bowling Dinesh Chandimal, whose 25 from 29 deliveries had helped the tourists steady the ship.

Chandimal's stint came after Kusal Mendis (four) and Pathum Nissanka (16) fell in swift succession, and though captain Dasun Shanaka hit an unbeaten 39 that included five boundaries, Chamika Karunaratne's late dismissal to Josh Hazlewood (1-31) left Sri Lanka needing an outstanding performance in the field.

Shorn of the world's number one T20I bowler, with Wanindu Hasaranga testing positive for COVID-19, Sri Lanka started brilliantly – Ben McDermott caught off the first ball.

Maheesh Theekshana sent McDermott packing and dismissed the batsman's fellow opener Ashton Agar for 13 in the fifth over.

Yet with Finch prodding and probing at one end, Maxwell was able to let rip at the other, striking two sixes and three fours in his 26-ball effort.

Maxwell was dropped in the covers, and his luck ran out when he tried to go big off Theekshana, but Finch then stepped up his scoring.

By the time Australia's captain edged Jeffrey Vandersay through to slip, the damage had been done, with Josh Inglis (21) and Marcus Stoinis (12) seeing out a comfortable win.

Aussies roll on

Australia have now registered two consecutive bilateral multi-game series win against Sri Lanka for the first time in the men's T20I format.

Reigning world champions Australia have now won eight successive T20I matches against Sri Lanka, with Stoinis capping this victory with a four that just looped over the man at cow corner.

Theekshana stands tall

Sri Lanka were dealt a huge blow before the match started with the news that Hasaranga had been forced into isolation.

The all-rounder has scalped 41 T20I wickets since the beginning of 2021, the most by any bowler. However, Theekshana at least stepped up to take 3-24 in an impressive four-over spell and give the tourists hope.

Australia held on for victory in the second T20I against Sri Lanka despite the tourists forcing a super over with a thrilling run chase.

Having won the opener – also in Sydney – by 20 runs, Sunday's match looked to be in Australia's control after they posted 164-6 after batting first.

Captain Aaron Finch (25) and 48 from Josh Inglis carried the hosts to 112-4 before late flurries from Marcus Stoinis (19) and Matthew Wade, who hit 13 off just four deliveries.

After Danushka Gunathilaka thumped a Josh Hazlewood ball straight to the waiting Ben McDermott, Inglis leapt to his left to catch a drive from Avishka Fernando in the third over, and Sri Lankan hopes looked forlorn indeed when Pat Cummins skittled Charith Asalanka for a duck.

Yet Pathum Nissanka maintained composure to build Sri Lanka's score. He smashed 73 off only 53 balls, including nine boundaries, while captain Dasun Shanaka added 34 from 19 deliveries before being run out by a brilliant Steve Smith throw.

It was Stoinis who eventually ended Nissanka's stand, his full toss swung towards deep square where Cummins claimed a fine catch, but Maheesh Theekshana promptly hit a six from the next ball despite Smith nearly concussing himself in a desperate attempt to save it.

In an extraordinary finish, Dushmantha Chameera then thumped another full toss from Stoinis straight down the ground for four to force the eliminator, for which Hazlewood was chosen for the Australia attack.

It proved a wise choice. Sri Lanka managed 5-1, with Dinesh Chandimal run out by Glenn Maxwell, allowing Stoinis to settle the contest with consecutive fours.

Unlucky Sri Lanka can take heart

Sri Lanka have now lost seven T20I matches in a row against Australia and have only one win from 15 in the format when playing outside Asia.

They are unlikely to get much closer to victory than this. Needing 46 off the final 18 balls, they managed 45, while fortune was against them when Chameera's final strike fell just short of a six after a wide had not been called on the penultimate delivery.

Hazlewood shines in super over

Nissanka kept Sri Lanka's hopes alive, but Hazlewood ended them clinically in the super over with some expert deliveries.

"I just kept a nice clear mind," said Hazlewood, who finished with figures of 3-22. "[I] had a chat with Finchy and came up with a plan of what I wanted to do. The confidence is high at the moment and [it is] nice to execute."

Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa bowled Australia to a 20-run victory in the first T20I against Sri Lanka in Sydney.

Australia could only make 149-9 at the SCG, which staged the first encounter of the five-match series, but it proved more than enough as their bowlers came good.

Hazlewood finished with 4-12 and player of the match Zampa took 3-18 from his four overs, with Sri Lanka finishing on 122-8 after a short rain interruption adjusted their victory target to 143 from 19 overs.

Ben McDermott, son of former Australia fast bowler Craig McDermott, earlier made his first international half-century as he top-scored with 53 for the home side.

The 27-year-old shared in a partnership of 50 for the second wicket with T20I debutant Josh Inglis, who made 23, while Marcus Stoinis added 30, but no other batter reached double figures.

Pathum Nissanka made a handy 36 at the top of the order for Sri Lanka in reply, and Dinesh Chandimal added 25 not out, but a steady trickle of wickets meant Australia were always in control.


Striking out on his own

Dad Craig played 71 Tests and 138 ODIs for Australia in a distinguished career. Ben McDermott could hardly be any more different as a cricketer, given he is a wicketkeeper-batsman, and so comparisons between the pair are futile. What is clear is that Ben has plenty of talent, and here, opening the innings, he clubbed two fours and three sixes in an attention-grabbing 41-ball knock, which ended when he was trapped lbw by Chamika Karunaratne.

Fernando keeps it tight

Sri Lanka's Binura Fernando had an economy rate of 3.0 as he took 2-12 in his four overs, with the left-arm paceman keeping Australia's batters on a tight rein. That miserly rate ranks as the third best by any pace bowler (minimum four overs) for Sri Lanka in a T20I innings away from home, beaten only by Nuwan Kulasekara (2.5 v UAE in February 2016) and Lasith Malinga (2.75 v South Africa in March 2019).

Australia were only crowned T20 World Cup champions in November, but their home series against Sri Lanka is the start of their preparations for a title defence.

The holders will host the next World Cup, which is to take place in October and November this year.

Meanwhile, a three-match T20 series against New Zealand planned for next month had to be scrapped due to COVID-19 concerns, but the immediate focus is on hosting Sri Lanka.

There has, of course, been plenty of off-field upheaval in the last week with coach Justin Langer resigning, but there is no better way for Australia to put that recent disturbance behind them and begin a new era than by consolidating their place at the pinnacle of the shortest format with a convincing series victory.

The series takes in five matches, starting in Sydney on Friday and also visiting Canberra and Melbourne.

Aaron Finch will be unable to call on two of his key performers from last year's World Cup run, with David Warner and Mitchell Marsh rested after their Ashes exploits.

That means that Ben McDermott has earned a recall, and Josh Inglis comes into the line-up at number three for a debut.

"The first series after the World Cup win, so it's really exciting to have a lot of new guys around the side as well and I guess quite a bit of pressure on after winning the World Cup," Finch told reporters.

"It does raise expectation. But we feel as though we've played some really good T20 cricket recently, so we're excited about that."

History on Australia's side

Australia have won their last five men's T20I matches against Sri Lanka, their longest active winning streak against any Test-playing nation in this format. 

Finch's team have also tasted victory in their last four T20Is. They last won more matches in a row in this format between February 2019 and February 2020, a streak of eight wins that included beating Sri Lanka on three occasions.

The series starts at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Australia have won five of their eight men's T20I matches (L3).

However, these three losses have been suffered in their last five matches at this venue, and this will be the first time they take on Sri Lanka at the SCG.

But Sri Lanka have only one win from their previous four T20Is played away from home. They had won all four of their matches prior to this run in this format, though.   

Hazlewood and Zampa out to do the damage

Adam Zampa was a star of the World Cup and he has fine form against Sri Lanka, with no player having taken more wickets in this fixture than the spinner's 16. Indeed, he has more wickets in this format against Sri Lanka than any other team.

Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka are two exciting batsmen for the tourists, but they will be up against a formidable bowling attack spearheaded by Test captain Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. 

No player has more wickets during a powerplay in T20Is since the beginning of 2021 than Hazlewood, who has 14 dismissals to his name during this period.

Wanindu Hasaranga took 2-22 against Australia in Dubai and could be a dangerman, but Sri Lanka's fielding let them down last year. Indeed, since the start of 2021, they have a catch success rate of just 75 per cent in T20Is, the poorest of all the Test-playing nations.

Looking to take advantage of any sloppiness will be Finch. The Australia skipper has topped the scorecard 18 times in T20Is since the beginning of 2015, seven more occasions than any of his team-mates. In fact, only three players have a better record for their respective countries among Test-playing nations in the shortest format (Rohit Sharma – 23, Paul Stirling – 19 and Virat Kohli – 19).  

David Warner and Mitchell Marsh have been left out of Australia's new-look squad to take on Sri Lanka in next month's T20 series.

Australia will also be without coach Justin Langer for the five-match series, with the 51-year-old being given a break after a busy period.

Assistant Andrew McDonald will act as head coach for the series, which runs from February 11 to 20.

While Australia will be without two of their T20 World Cup stars in Warner and Marsh, Josh Hazlewood is back involved after returning from injury.

Ben McDermott, who impressed during the Big Bash League campaign, is also included in the 16-man squad that was named on Tuesday.

"I don't think that I wasn't ready to play for Australia before, but I certainly feel ready now," said McDermott, who has already made 19 appearances for his country. 

"I feel like I'm at the top of my game. I've developed a lot of learnings through some experiences. 

"They haven't all been good ones, I won't shy away from that, but I've definitely learned from those experiences and hopefully I come back well."

The other members of Australia's successful World Cup campaign to miss out on selection are Mitchell Swepson, Daniel Sams, Dan Christian and Nathan Ellis

National selectors chair George Bailey said: "This squad will begin preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup defence at home later this year and includes several players who have an early chance to impress in these five matches against a quality opposition."

Australia T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Josh Inglis, Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa

Sri Lanka's Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella have had their one-year bans on playing international cricket lifted.

The decision from Sri Lanka Cricket comes less than six months into the suspension period, and means they are once again eligible for selection in domestic cricket as well as for their national side.

The ban was handed out after the three players were found to have breached COVID-19 bio-bubble protocols during the tour of England last year.

The players were in Durham preparing for the first of three ODIs when they left the team hotel to visit the city centre despite strict COVID-19-related rules.

Batsmen Mendis and Gunathilaka, and wicketkeeper-batsman Dickwella were sent home and hit with strong sanctions.

The executive committee of Sri Lanka Cricket took into account recommendations made by an independent panel of inquiry before handing down a 12-month ban from playing at international level and a six-month domestic suspension.

All three were also fined 10million Sri Lanka Rupees (around £36,000) for their indiscretion.

However, a statement released on Friday outlined that the ban had been lifted, confirming: "Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to lift the one-year suspension imposed on the [three] players from playing international cricket, across all three formats, with immediate effect.

"The latest decision was taken following a request made by the three players to Sri Lanka Cricket to lift the ban imposed on them, pursuant to the conclusion of the LPL 2021. Based on such request, Sri Lanka Cricket obtained a report from the doctor appointed by SLC to provide counselling for the three players during their period of suspension."

Sri Lanka Cricket did also state that if the trio have any further disciplinary breaches in the next two years, the remainder of the suspension will need to be served.

"The lifted suspension will remain suspended for a period of two years, during which the three players' conduct will be closely monitored by the SLC," the release added.

"Accordingly, the three players will be able to engage in playing domestic cricket with immediate effect and will also be available for national selection, subject to complying with mandatory fitness standards."

The appropriately named Jaffna Kings, the team of West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales, continue to reign supreme after defeating the Galle Gladiators by 23 runs in Thursday’s final to claim their second Lankan Premier League title.

The Kings took first strike and got off to a good start thanks to openers Avishka Fernando and Rahmanullah Gurbaz.  Gurbaz was the first to go in the sixth over for 35 with the score at 56-1.

Englishman Tom Kohler-Cadmore then joined Fernando and the two put on a further 63 runs before Fernando was dismissed by Nuwan Thushara for a top score of 63 from 41 deliveries.

The score at Fernando’s dismissal was 119-2 off 12.4 overs when Shoaib Malik came to the crease to join Kohler-Cadmore.  The pair put on a further 62 runs before Malik was dismissed in the 19th over for 23 off 11 balls with the score at 181-3 off 18.2 overs.

Kings captain Thisara Perera strode to the crease to give them a big finish along with Kohler-Cadmore to post a daunting 201-3 off their 20 overs, with Kohler-Cadmore finishing not out on 57 from 41 balls and Perera finishing with 17 off 9 balls.

Thushara and Samit Patel were the best bowlers on the day for the Gladiators, bowling their four overs with figures of 1-32 and 1-33, respectively.

The reply from the Gladiators got off to a spectacular start with openers Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka racing to 63-0 at the start of the fifth over before Gunathilaka was dismissed by Wanindu Hasaranga for a blazing 54 off just 21 balls.

Things went from bad to worse for Galle as Australian batsman Ben Dunk was dismissed by Hasaranga off the very next ball for a duck, leaving them 63-2 from 4.3 overs.

Mohammed Hafeez then joined Mendis at the crease to attempt to stabilize the innings.  He didn’t last long as he was run out in the sixth over for 10 from six balls, leaving Galle now 84-3 from 6.2 overs.

Mendis was now joined at the wicket by captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa and the pair put on a further 29 runs before Rajapaksa was dismissed for 14 from 16 balls to leave them 113-4 from 10.4 overs.

Mendis was finally dismissed in the 14th over for 39 off 28 balls to leave the team 129-5 from 13.1 overs.

Dhananjaya Lakshan and Pulina Tharanga were then both dismissed in quick succession by Chatarunga de Silva to leave the score at 143-7 from 15.5 overs.

Samit Patel, who came to the crease at the fall of Rajapaksa’s wicket, made a solid 22 from 20 balls before he became the eighth wicket on the last ball of the 18th over.

The Gladiators ended their reply 178-9 off 20 overs to fall short by 23 runs.  Wanindu Hasaranga was the pick of the bowlers for the Kings with 2-30 from his four overs.

Seales took 1-36 from his three overs for the Kings.

Sri Lanka completed a series sweep of the West Indies Friday winning the second Test by 164 runs at Galle. Needing to make 297 or bat out 93 overs on the final day, the West Indies folded for 132 all out in 56.1 overs.

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, says Sri Lanka’s resistance on the penultimate day of the second Test match in Galle will make it difficult for the West Indies to level the two-match series.

An unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 107 between Dhananjaya de Silva and Lasith Embuldeniya put Sri Lanka in control on the penultimate day of the second Test against the West Indies at Galle on Thursday.

At stumps, Sri Lanka are 328-8, a lead of 279 with two wickets still remaining. De Silva is 153 not out while Embuldeniya is on 25. Together they took Sri Lanka from 221-8 after the West Indies had threatened to restrict the home side to a lead below 200 runs, having trailed by 49 on first innings.

Resuming on 46-2, still three runs behind on first innings, Sri Lanka lost their third wicket at 73 when Veerasammy Permaul had Charith Asalanka caught at short leg for 19. Pathum Nissanka, 21, overnight, and de Silva stitched together a stand of 78 that was broken when the former got out lbw to Roston Chase for 66.

It was then 151-4.

At 157, Chase had Dinesh Chandimal out caught and bowled for two and the Sri Lankan lead was now only 108 with five wickets left.

However, de Silva forged a partnership of 51 with Ramesh Mendis, who made 25. Permaul then dismissed Suranga Lakmal for seven and the injured Angelo Matthews for 1 as Sri Lanka slipped to 221-8, a lead of 172.

It was the last success the West Indies would enjoy.

Permaul, who took 5-35 in the first innings, has so far taken 3-100 while Chase has figures of 2-82.

Scores in the match: Sri Lanka 204 and 328-8; West Indies 253.

 

West Indies middle-order batsman, Kyle Mayers, insists the team must keep the pressure on Sri Lanka if they aim to stay in with a chance of levelling the series heading into the fourth day.

Mayers dug in to put on a useful 36 from 64 balls as the Windies secured a narrow lead over the hosts at the end of their first innings, on the third day.

Resuming the day at 69 for 1, the Windies had a strong morning session, but the Sri Lanka spinners struck back to claim the team’s last seven wickets for just 87 runs. 

The Windies began the second innings with a narrow lead of 49 but kept the pressure on by striking twice with two exceptional runouts to leave the hosts at 46 for 2, at the end of the day’s play.  Mayers, who did his part by dismissing the dangerous Dimuth Karunaratne, insists the team must keep that attitude heading into tomorrow.

“We need to keep down the run rate and keep up the pressure,” Mayers said, following the end of play.

“We are ahead in the game now, so if we can stop them from scoring, runs are crucial heading into the last day.  The least amount of runs they get is the better it is for us,” he added.

“So, if we can keep the pressure on and squeeze some wicket out early tomorrow, first hour, I think we will be good.”

Sri Lanka are 46-2 at the end of the third day of the second Test against the West Indies at Galle on Wednesday, still three runs behind the visitors in a match that is delicately poised heading into Thursday’s fourth day.

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