Aaron Finch has labeled the Khettarama pitch a "poor wicket", after he struck a 46-ball 56 to set Australia on track for a three-wicket victory in the first ODI. Finch was only at the crease for the first 14.2 overs of the innings, but the ball was consistently raising puffs even during Sri Lanka's innings. Significant turn was also on offer - though Khettarama has long been a spin-friendly venue.
"I don't think I've ever played on a wicket that spun that much," Finch said. "It was a pretty poor wicket I think. For balls to be going through the top from the second over - Josh Hazlewood to Tillakaratne Dilshan - for the second over of the game, I think that was pretty poor. We played well to track down that total. It seemed like a different spinner was bowling every over. They've got plenty of options and we played exceptionally well with the bat to get across the line."
Finch also suggested the practice pitches Australia had used at Khettarama had played differently from the track prepared for match day.
"The ones next to it that we've been training on have been pretty good wickets. They started to spin a bit yesterday - late yesterday. I don't think I've seen any wickets that have spun to that extreme - particularly in a one-day game. I suppose the wickets that we trained on were probably not very similar, to be fair."
Among batsmen who made more than 25, Finch was the only one to maintain a strike rate higher than 90. He hit two sixes and seven fours in his innings, and his aggression got Australia well ahead of the required rate.
"I think the way that the game panned out, we noticed that as soon as the ball got a bit older, it started to spin quite big and it wasn't coming on to the bat. We just made a call to try and take on the new ball. Generally in the subcontinent that is the way to play. It came off today for a little bit, so it was nice to get the team off to a flyer. I think that's generally the way that games go on wickets that are so slow and low."
Mitchell Starc became the fastest bowler to 100 ODI wickets in this match, achieving the milestone in 52 matches, to beat Saqlain Mushtaq, who had got there in 53 games. Starc has been excellent through Australia's tour of Sri Lanka, having taken 24 wickets in the Tests as well.
"It's a fantastic achievement from Mitchell - he's been the best in the world for a number of years now," Finch said. "When he gets it right there's absolutely no one better around. We were aware of the record. We thought that he'd get it in the tri-series in the West Indies, in June, but he didn't get any wickets in the final."
Finch was also full of praise for James Faulkner, who took 4 for 38 in his 10 overs, despite Finch dropping a catch off his bowling. Finch had been fielding at deep square leg when he palmed a slog sweep from Kusal Mendis onto the boundary. Faulkner did eventually take Mendis' wicket.
"Faulkner was fantastic," Finch said. "When you've got three or four different kinds of slower balls, it's a huge advantage. You can always make sure it's turning away from the bat. He was a bit unlucky early - I lost one straight in the sun. He probably thought it was going to be one of those days, but he stuck to the basics well and kept doing what he's very good at."