Thisara Perera produced an outstanding all-round performance to help Sri Lanka to a three-run win over Australia in a rain hit Twenty20 international on Monday, securing a 2-0 victory in the series that sparked animosity between the two sides.
After making a hard-hitting unbeaten 35 in Sri Lanka's innings of 161 for four – bolstered by Mahela Jayawardene's 61 not out –Perera bowled a pressure-laden final over to give his team victory under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Australia needed 18 runs from the final six balls to win the match, after being set a revised target of 122 from 15 overs following a lengthy rain delay.
The chase came down to four runs from the last delivery but Perera produced a dot ball, after conceding consecutive boundaries from his two previous deliveries, to take the match and the series.
However, the match ended with angry scenes as players from both teams clashed verbally, even during the traditional congratulatory handshakes.
Glenn Maxwell, who faced the last ball, appeared angry that Perera had taken his time to bowl it, and he argued with a number of Sri Lanka fielders.
George Bailey, the Australia T20 captain, declined to comment on the incident, but said in his television interview that he did not believe the incident would harm relations with Sri Lanka.
He said: "Passion mate. People care about the game and care about the way they play.
"I know we get along very well with this side. Even just the chats there coming off, I think it's all just heat-of-the-moment stuff.
"But I think what you're seeing is individuals and teams that are pretty keen to win.''
Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, shared that view, as he said: "Things happen. Exchange a few words. They play it hard. We play it hard. So that's it."
Sri Lanka had already been displeased that the Australian umpires Simon Fry and John Ward ruled the match should continue after an almost 90 minute rain delay, which left the outfield at the Melbourne Cricket Ground damp and slippery.
The fourth one-day international between the teams at Sydney last week was abandoned in similar circumstances when Sri Lanka were in a strong position to win both the match and the series.
Then, a minor rain shower dampened the outfield causing the umpires to call off the match and costing Sri Lanka the chance to take a winning 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
After that game was abandoned, Australia won the fifth match to tie the series 2-2.
Yesterday, Sri Lanka would have won the match clearly under the Duckworth-Lewis system if the umpires had abandoned the match when rain intervened after the 10th over of the Australian innings.
At that point, Australia was 60 for two and trailed Sri Lanka by 15 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system. Sri Lanka's coach and captain made clear to the umpires their belief that the match should not continue because of the condition of the playing area.
The umpires ruled that play could continue but, when they did so, five overs had been lost and Australia were set a revised chance for 122.
That amounted to 62 runs from five overs with eight wickets in hand; an achievable target in the conditions.
Sri Lanka's anger intensified when Shaun Marsh, who was seen as the key figure in the Australian run chase, edged a ball from Ajantha Mendis to the wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal in the first over after the resumption but was adjudged not out.
But they kept their cool to triumph.
New Zealand: Rhyder's hiatus will continue
The New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder will miss the Black Caps’ home series against England next month and instead will make himself available for the Indian Premier League, his manager said Monday.
Ryder opted to take a self-imposed break from cricket last March after a series of disciplinary lapses and a drop in form that led to him consulting a psychologist.
The batsman has been in good touch since returning to first-class cricket with Wellington but Aaron Klee, his manager, said it was too early for the 28 year old to resume his international career.
“There’s nothing to be gained by rushing him back,” Klee told the Dominion Post.
“There’s just downside risks, but if we’re a bit more patient and wait till everything is in place and Jesse’s ready, then there will be more upside risks.”
Instead of playing in the England tour, Klee said Ryder would put himself forward in the player auction for the IPL, which runs from April 3 to May 26.
“People are going to speculate about why he’s available for the IPL and not New Zealand [but] it’s a domestic competition and it’s a short-term contract, so it gives us the ability to reassess it.
“If you go back to international cricket you can’t reassess tour after tour. It fits a bit better into his goals and plans.”
Ryder’s prowess will be missed by the Black Caps, who were badly exposed with the bat in two Test drubbings on their recent tour of South Africa.
However, their batting stock against England will be boosted by the return of Ross Taylor, who sat out the South Africa tour after being dropped as captain but has made himself available for the three-Test series.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE