Sri Lankan batsmen did put up some fight in the third and final T20I in Melbourne on Friday (November 1) but it was still not enough as David Warner registered his third unbeaten 50+ score of the series to help Australia complete a series whitewash in this format for the first time since 2014 on their home soil.
Asked to bat, Kusal Perera finally managed to convert his start into something substantial as his 45-ball 57 helped the Islanders post a decent total of 142 for 6 in their 20 overs. Coming on the back of unbeaten scores of 100 and 60, Warner once again stamped his authority and scored a well-crafted 50-ball 57* to lead his team to a seven-wicket win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The left-hander became only the third batsman after Colin Munro and Virat Kohli to register three 50+ scores in a three-match T20I series.
In the process, the 33-year-old became the first Australian batsman to complete 9000 T20 and 2000 T20I runs. He only smashed one six during his stay in the middle but that was enough to make him the second Australian after Adam Gilchrist (105) to hit 100 international sixes in Australia.
Earlier, Sri Lanka once again got off to a horrible start. Niroshan Dickwella, elevated to the opening spot after Danushka Gunathilaka was dropped, was out first ball in the opening over, ballooning a Mitchell Starc delivery to Ben McDermott.
Perera and Kusal Mendis began showing some aggression, smoking a handful of boundaries, before Kane Richardson tempted Mendis into another big shot and he was caught at deep square for 13. But Perera dug in and along with Avishka Fernando pushed the score to 65 for 2 at the halfway mark.
The pair built a 43-run partnership, the team’s highest of the series, before Fernando played a half-hearted chip off Pat Cummins to McDermott near the boundary and he was gone for 20. Oshada Fernando followed soon after for 6, feathering a ball to Alex Carey behind the stumps, but the aggressive Perera kept plugging away, bringing up his 11th T20I fifty off 38 balls. He is now only behind Tillakaratne Dilshan who has 13 fifties for Sri Lanka.
The left-hander finally departed in the 17th over, top-edging a Cummins ball to Ashton Turner at mid-off, but Bhanuka Rajapaksa (17*) and Lasith Malinga (8*) slammed some useful boundaries to propel their team to a respectable total.
Having been dismissed for a golden duck in the last encounter, Australian skipper Aaron Finch once again looked at his brutal best, blasting three maximums in his 25-ball 37. The right-hander looked in solid touch from the word go and that gave Warner the freedom to keep one end intact. The two added 69 runs for the opening wicket and also went past Shane Watson’s record of 83 sixes for Australia. Finch was finally undone by Lahiru Kumara’s slower delivery in the ninth over.
Meanwhile, Steve Smith (13) started off with a couple of boundaries before slapping one straight into the hands of Lakshan Sandakan at deep square leg. Ben McDermott, who came in as Glenn Maxwell’s replacement, could only manage 5 before he was dismissed lbw by Malinga. The replays however suggested that the ball was going down leg but McDermott didn’t go for the review.
The home team still needed 43 runs and Warner found an able ally in Ashton Turner (15-ball 22*) who hammered couple of sixes to push Australia closer to the target. Meanwhile, Warner went about his business calmly and sealed the deal with a boundary towards deep backward square leg in the 18th over.
However, Australia won’t get much time to celebrate as they will have to fly to Sydney to take on Pakistan in the first of three T20Is on Sunday.