Australia 228 for 7 (Smith 58, Finch 56, Bailey 39, Dilruwan Perera 3-48) beat Sri Lanka 227 for 8 (Chandimal 80*, Kusal Mendis 67, Faulkner 4-38, Starc 3-32) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
By the Numbers - Starc breaks record in Australia victory
A look at some of the key numbers as Australia beat Sri Lanka by three wickets in COlombo
Sri Lanka had no fewer than six slow-bowling options - half of them specialists. And by the time Australia batted, the dry Premadasa pitch had begun to bubble and spit. In the Tests, these ingredients had led to humbling defeats for the visitors while the local spinners reaped sackfuls of wickets. But perhaps for the first time on tour, Australia satisfactorily negotiated the spin challenge. The win wasn't always pretty, but it was comfortable enough. With Aaron Finch and Steven Smith making half centuries, Australia chased down 228 with three wickets and more than three overs to spare.
It had been Australia's quicks' discipline that had earlier tethered Sri Lanka to a relatively modest total, even given the difficult conditions. Mitchell Starc took three important wickets as he became the quickest bowler in history to 100 ODI wickets, and James Faulkner inflicted even more damage, delivering a double-wicket maiden upon which Sri Lanka's innings pivoted, and claiming four wickets for 38 all told.
Faulkner had cajoled Kusal Mendis into a miscued pull early in the 30th over, then had Angelo Mathews athletically caught at point four balls later. When Starc took another wicket soon after, Sri Lanka had slipped from 124 for 2 to 132 for 5, and though Dinesh Chandimal was at the crease through the rest of the innings, Sri Lanka could not muster the 250 which might have represented a winning score.
Starc prospered on a customary full length, and each of his wickets were the result of drawing batsmen into drives. He knocked down Kusal Perera's off stump in the first over, got Dhananjaya de Silva miscuing a slower ball to claim his 100th wicket, then had Milinda Siriwardana out with a similar delivery. Faulkner bowled his cutters more liberally and generally pitched the ball on a length. Starc did not concede a boundary through his ten overs. Faulkner was exemplary at the death, giving away only 17 in his last three overs, and claiming two scalps in them.
Smith's 58 provided the chase its middle-overs substance, but it had been Finch who made quick ground in the early overs, so as to give the middle order a wide margin for error. He clubbed his second ball for six, and did not slow his rate of scoring while the fielding restrictions were in effect even though balls began to misbehave early on. By the end of the 10th over, he had hit seven fours and two sixes in a score of 48 from 36 balls.
Finch departed in somewhat controversial circumstances - when Amila Aponso, the debutant left-arm spinner, had one leap away from the bat off a full length. The ball ended up in the hands of Angelo Mathews at slip, but such was the turn on offer, that it is possible it got there with no interference from Finch's bat.
Whatever the case, Smith took the chase by the collar from then onwards, but his was a steadier innings. Aponso beat his bat virtually every over, but Smith kept out the straighter deliveries and scored off the shorter ones. He was dropped on 15 when, at slip, Mathews failed to hold a catch that had deflected off the wicketkeeper's pad. The remainder of his outside edges landed safely away from fielders. It was not the most fluent innings Smith has played, but it was the kind of surface on which survival was laudable enough.
Aponso was the most accurate of Sri Lanka's bowlers, and unlucky to finish with only one wicket from his 10 overs. His colleagues left their surge too late. Dilruwan Perera had Smith caught at short leg, but the score was already 190. He took two more wickets towards the finish, and Lakshan Sandakan one more to add to the earlier wicket of Matthew Wade. Australia lost four for 32 through that late period, but that was not a dramatic enough slump to threaten the result.
Sri Lanka's top-scorer Dinesh Chandimal had earlier brought a Test-match zen to the first ODI, as he hit an unbeaten 80 from 113 deliveries. He scored in singles and twos exclusively to begin with, and was content to go without a boundary until his 46th delivery. The majority of his runs came square of the wicket; the cut, sweep, dab and legside flick the more favoured among his strokes. The Australia seamers increasingly rolled their fingers over the ball as the innings progressed, but Chandimal was largely wise to their changes of pace - though his shots did also find infielders more often than he would have liked. He hit only three boundaries in his innings.
Mendis was the recipient of much good during his 67 from 95 balls. He was dropped on 14, survived a close lbw shout on 25, was almost run out twice, and mishit plenty of his shots. However, unlike Chandimal, Mendis didn't completely omit the more exuberant strokes. His most memorable shots was a regal lofted straight drive off Moises Henriques, and a lofted legside flick off Faulkner.
Beyond these two half-centuries, three others made bit-part contributions to the score. Tillakaratne Dilshan made 22 before falling to the Dilscoop. Siriwardana hit 19 off 26 in a 41-run stand with Chandimal, and Thisara Perera made 21 off 14 in the death overs. Australia's seamers were difficult to get away at the finish, conceding only 41 in the final six overs, but much of the damage had been done earlier on.