Having already lost the series, Sri Lanka would have been looking to claim a consolation win in the final ODI at Pallekele on Sunday. But, it wasn't to be the case as Australia once again proved too good for the hosts. Sri Lanka batted first yet again, but failed to put up a challenging score on the board, as they could not stand up to the Aussie bowlers. Then, David Warner roared back to form with a hard-fought hundred to lead his team to another comprehensive victory. He got good support from the in-form George Bailey. And, although Australia lost a few wickets in the end, as they have been doing by habit, a win was never in question.
Sri Lanka's loss had a lot to do with the fact that they did not put up enough runs on the board. That was the story of the series for them. But, the most disappointing aspect of their batting was that their top three all got into the 30s, but did not progress beyond that. Dhananjaya de Silva got 34, Danushka Gunathilaka 39 and Kusal Mendis 33. All of them promised a lot as they looked good out in the middle, but could not deliver. And, with Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga falling cheaply, Sri Lanka found themselves in trouble at 129 for 5. In fact, they collapsed from 73 for no loss to 78 for 3 in no time.
Sri Lanka could still have made a match of it had the lower order fired. But, with no Angelo Mathews, and Thisara Perera being unavailable for the final match, Sri Lanka did not have any batting firepower down the order. Kusal Perera, Dasun Shanaka and Dilruwan Perera all failed to contribute. And although Sachith Pathirana contributed with a quick 32, Sri Lanka could not even get to 200. In fact, they were all out for 195 in the 41st over, which means they scored at a decent rate, but failed to keep wickets in hand.
Australia's bowling was highly efficient again, as has been the case in the series. Mitchell Starc yet again proved a worthy spearhead with figures of 3 for 40. While he was most impressive, there were very good contributions all round. Travis Head claimed 2 for 22, and Adam Zampa also chipped in with a couple of wickets although he was slightly on the expensive side. In fact, not a single bowler who took the ball ended up wicketless. Scott Boland, John Hastings and James Faulkner all ended up with a wicket each.
If Sri Lanka wanted to make a match out of it, they needed to claim early wickets at the top. And, Dilruwan Perera kept their hopes alive with a couple of early wickets, dismissing both Matthew Wade and Usman Khawaja. But, Warner, who had failed in the previous matches, rose to the occasion. There was no pressure on him as Australia has already clinched the series. Still, Warner batted with resolve to raise a hundred to end what has been a tough tour for him. Bailey, the man of the series, also aided him in the partnership that ensured Australia recovered from the early hiccups. Although both fell before the visitors crossed the finish line, the result was never in doubt.
--By A Cricket Analyst