Maxwell and Hasaranga light up first Sri Lanka vs Australia ODI
After a fine showdown in the shortest format of the game, Australia and Sri Lanka moved to the ODIs and the very opener of the series would produce a cracker of a contest as it would go down to the penultimate over to ultimately spot a winner. Guess what? The showdown was dominated by two Royal Challengers who also left a significant trail in the recently concluded IPL.
Batting first, Sri Lanka piled up a staggering 300 on the board, thanks to the hard-hitting strikers up top, featuring the likes of Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, and Kusal Mendis. Despite the early rampage, Australia would soon find their way back into the contest, as Marnus Labuschagne and Ashton Agar would combine perfectly to derail their free-flowing momentum.
With the team teetering at 258 for 6 from 46 overs, Wanindu Hasaranga stepped up to the occasion to take the Aussies by the scruff of their neck, propelling the Lankans to a staggering 300, thanks to a quickfire 37 off just 19 balls. Scoring at a strike rate of 194.74, he smoked 6 fours in his exciting sojourn in the middle.
Chasing a momentous 301, Australia were jolted to a rude awakening as they lost David Warner for a duck before Aaron Finch and Steven Smith stabilized the innings. Despite the runs coming off their bats, in the face of the chase that would need them to fire quicker, the required rate would be falling behind, leaving an uphill task for the tail to complete.
In a rain-curtailed encounter, the target for Australia would come down to 282 from 44 overs, making the ask a much steeper one. Just when it felt that Marcus Stoinis would eventually seal the fate of the contest for the Australians, it was the spin maestro who would throw a spanner in Australia’s plans as he went on to claim the prized scalps of a set Stoinis, Alex Carey and Pat Cummins.
As Australia stuttered at 228 for 7 and with only the tail to join forces with Glenn Maxwell, victory seemed like a pipe dream. However, everything ain’t over until Maxwell says it is and it would be the RCB talisman who eventually pulled off a cricketing miracle to steer Australia home.
He stayed unbeaten on a staggering 80 from just 51 balls that witnessed him smashing 6 fours and 6 sixes, guiding the Australians home with imperious dominance, that at one point only seemed like a myth of the bygone late '90s and early 2000s. If Hasaranga’s all-round display would help Sri Lanka set sights on a victory, it was Glenn Maxwell’s match-winning knock that completed the mighty story penned by the Challengers in the island nation.