Gunaratne’s 84 leads Sri Lanka to series win vs Australia

GEELONG, Australia (AP) Sri Lanka clinched the Twenty20 series against Australia with a last-ball boundary for the second consecutive match, with Asela Gunaratne clubbing Andrew Tye for four on Sunday night to finish unbeaten on 84 in a two-wicket victory.

Sri Lanka won the toss and fielded in game two and bowled Australia out for 173, with Nuwan Kulasekara (4-31) taking three wickets in the last four balls to restrict the hosts.

The Sri Lankans were in trouble early in reply, losing skipper Upul Tharanga (4) in the first over and slipping to 40-5 in the fifth.

But Gunaratne combined with Chamara Kapugedera (32) in a 52-run sixth-wicket stand to get the innings back on track and worked with the tail to get into a position where he needed two runs from the last ball to secure a win.

He blazed Tye to the long off rope to finish 84 not out from 46 balls and lift Sri Lanka to 176-8 to secure the series win with a match to spare.

Gunaratne, who also top-scored for Sri Lanka with 52 in the win in Melbourne, belted four sixes and three fours in the last two overs after his team slipped off the paced to 138-7 with 12 balls remaining.

He hit three sixes and a four off Moises Henriques in the penultimate over, meaning Sri Lanka needed 14 runs off six balls to win.

Kalesekara was dismissed off the first ball, but Gunaratne belted a four and a six off Tye to set up the thrilling finish.

The Sri Lankans also won the opening game in Melbourne with a boundary off the last ball.

Australia’s test squad is in India preparing for a four-test series starting this week, leaving Aaron Finch to lead the T20 lineup. The last match will be played in Adelaide on Wednesday.