Adam Zampa's dismantling of Sri Lanka arrived too late to salvage the series for Australia, and also too late for his skiddy, accurate wrist spin to be considered for the Test team to face India in Pune from Thursday
Adam Zampa's dismantling of Sri Lanka arrived too late to salvage the series for Australia, and also too late for his skiddy, accurate wristspin to be considered for the Test team to face India in Pune from Thursday.
The frequent omission of Zampa from Australia's ODI and Twenty20 sides - despite an excellent record in both formats - has been a mystery for quite some time, and there appeared to be thinly veiled frustration on the part of the bowler as he accounted for the series' pivotal player Asela Gunaratne, Chamara Kapugedara and Dasun Shanaka in quick succession to push a target of 188 beyond the reach of the visitors.
His wickets came not from any extravagant turn but instead useful changes of pace and unrelenting attack on the stumps, winning a pair of back foot lbw verdicts from the umpire Paul Wilson either side of another slider that bowled Kapugedara between bat and pad. Australia's selectors had admitted to choosing an "attacking" spinner in Mitchell Swepson over what the panel's chairman Trevor Hohns called a more "defensive" operator in Zampa.
Sri Lanka made a rapid start to their chase but a sturdy Australian effort with the bat meant that they did not have much room to lose momentum. The captain Aaron Finch and his opening partner Michael Klinger both contributed half centuries, before Ben Dunk and Travis Head provided aggressive support through the middle overs.
At 0 for 41 in the fourth over, the visitors appeared well in control of proceedings, largely due to the early pyrotechnics of Dilshan Munaweera - including 20 runs off Jhye Richardson's opening over. However, James Fulkner, Richardson and Head each coaxed outfield catches from Sri Lanka's top-order batsmen, before Zampa arrived to attack the stumps with quite compelling effect.
Those wickets meant that Gunaratne was not around to perform his third Houdini act in succession, and left Faulkner to lead the mop-up operation and the Australians to enjoy the consolation of a win in the final home international of the summer. Australia will next be glimpsed in coloured clothing at the ODI Champions Trophy in May and June.
The hosts had recalled Zampa in place of Andrew Tye for the dead rubber, banking on his spin bowling at the ground where he also plays for South Australia. Sri Lanka called in Shanaka in place of the suspended Niroshan Dickwella, leaving Kusal Mendis to take over the wicketkeeper's gloves and Munaweera to open.
Finch had a hearty slice of good fortune in the first over of the evening when he tugged Lasith Malinga to midwicket and was dropped by Munaweera. He made up for it with a series of meaty blows inside the powerplay, while Klinger took some more time to get himself moving.
The openers were parted at a healthy 79 in the ninth over, before Ben Dunk and then Travis Head offered further acceleration. At one point a tally beyond 200 looked more than plausible, but Head's exit and the run out of a steadily building Klinger left the innings to peter out somewhat in the final overs. On a good pitch it appeared an open chase, before Zampa closed the door with some panache.