Maxwell helps Australia seal series against SL

Glenn Maxwell slammed 39 from 25 as a dominant Australia beat Sri Lanka by six wickets to win their third successive Twenty20 clash and seal the series in Canberra on Tuesday.

The world champions have an unassailable 3-0 lead with two games remaining after winning the opener by 20 points and then clinching the second in a thrilling super ending after a tie.

They slowly started chasing 122 to win at Manuka Oval, losing the first two wickets before skipper Aaron Finch (35) and heavy hitter Maxwell steadied the ship.

They reached the goal with 19 balls to spare and the loss of four wickets.

Australia made three changes for the match, with the return of Mitchell Starc and the opportunity of Ashton Agar and Daniel Sams, with Finch hailing the depth of the squad.

“That’s something we tried to expose a bit more, mixing the guys up to get more insight into the depth of the squad,” he said. “And it looks really good right now.”

With Sri Lanka needing the win to keep the series alive, they struck out 17 from the first two overs after being sent to bat.

But they got bogged down in Australia’s economic bowl, crawling to 121 for six with skipper Dasun Shanaka making 39 and Kane Richardson pocketing 3-21.

Their prospect of securing a victory was hampered by star leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga testing positive for Covid-19 before the game and speedster Nuwan Thushara was injured after playing just seven balls.

“No positives today, again a bad start from our boys,” Shanaka said. “Throughout the series, that’s been a major concern. If we had that momentum early on, we could get those points on the board. We were 20-30 points short in that game.”

– Anchor role –
They were given a boost when the dangerous Ben McDermott was taken down first, giving Charith Asalanka a big advantage when sliding over Maheesh Theekshana.

Ashton Agar, who surprisingly opened the innings, made it 13 before Theekshana landed a second scalp to leave Australia at 31 for two after five overs.

But Maxwell took his chance, surviving three chances, to blast 39 and turn the tables before also falling to Theekshana for one big shot too many, after two sixes and three fours.

Finch was happy to play the anchor role before Josh Inglis (21) and Marcus Stoinis (12) brought them home.

Earlier, Sri Lanka got off to an aggressive start before Danushka Gunathilaka was knocked out for Richardson’s first delivery to third over. He has now gone 1, 0 and 9 in his three rounds on tour, putting his place under threat.

Asalanka came in and hit a six but left a ball later, caught behind Richardson, while Kusal Mendis, on his return after recovering from Covid-19, lasted just 11 balls before being undone by the Agar leg spinner.

Part-time spinner Maxwell took the big wicket from Pathum Nissanka, who was Sri Lanka’s top batsman this round, but it took an exceptional diving catch from Sams to pull it off for 16 and leave the visitors reeling at 42 for four after eight overs.

Dinesh Chandimal and Shanaka added 47 for the fifth wicket but 122 was never going to be a big enough target.

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