Sri Lanka made a telling comeback into contention in the five-match ODI series with a remarkable 82 runs victory in the second match at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo on Wednesday night to draw level 1-1 after losing the first game.
Pumped up after victory in the first match the Australians had Sri Lanka in trouble taking the wickets of openers Tillekeratne Dilshan (10) and Dhanushka Gunatilleke (2) at the start.
But Australia’s hopes of making further inroads into the home team’s batting were blown up when the new kid on the block Kusal Mendis (69) joined Dinesh Chandimal (48) to set the course for a 288 match winning total that seemed even bigger when Sri Lankan medium pacer Thisara Perera plucked the first two wickets in its defence to have the tourists struggling at 16 for 2.
Australia were eventually all out for 206 unable to come to grips with the Sri Lankan spinners on a turning pitch.
Australian batsman Matthew Wade could only give his team just faint hopes as he struck 76 while the wickets kept tumbling before he was caught at deep mid-wicket that gave Thisara Perera his third wicket.
In setting the target for Australia the host team went through just two batting phases when Chandimal and Mendis shared in a 125-run stand for the third wicket to be followed by skipper Angelo Mathews (57) and Kusal Perera (54) associating in a partnership of 103 runs for the sixth wicket.
That Sri Lanka eventually lost their last five wickets for just 27 runs in 2.5 overs did not even matter as Australia were to find run-making an elusive possibility.
Sri Lanka 288 in 48.5 overs (Angelo Mathews 57, Kusal Perera 54, Kusal Mendis 69, Dinesh Chandimal 48, Mitchell Starc 3 for 53, James Faulkner 3 for 45, Adam Zampa 3 for 42)
Australia 206 in 47.2 overs (Matthew Wade 76, Thisara Perera 3 for 33, Angelo Mathews 2 for 17, Amila Aponso 4 for 18)