Sri Lanka levelled the series winning the second ODI by 82-runs © AFP
Sri Lanka levelled the series winning the second ODI by 82-runs © AFP

Snatching victory from jaws of defeat, Sri Lanka are set to host Australia for third ODI at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium in Dambulla on Sunday. The five-ODI series is pretty level at 1-1 and Sri Lanka will look to continue their winning momentum against Australia in the third ODI. With the absence of Steven Smith, Australia will need to be wary of Sri Lanka further. It was the Lankans all-round performance that rewarded them a win in the second ODI. Be it Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Kusal Perera’s fifties or new comer Amilo Aponso’s 4-wicket haul and Thisara Perera’s 3-wicket haul. Sri Lanka will be raring to repeat their performance against an unstable Australian side. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs Sri Lanka 3rd ODI at Dambulla

Sri Lanka’s opening batsmen dilemma seems to have no end. Veteran Tillakaratne Dilshan has announced his retirement from limited-over cricket recently. Having already retired from Tests, he will look to end his limited-overs career with a bang. He has been out of form the past two ODIs with scores of 22 and 1. Being the only veteran player on the side, he will have to give the top-order a boost. Sri Lanka’s experimentation to play around with the opening batsmen failed miserably as Danushka Gunathilaka brought no success in the second ODI. However, Kusal Perera playing lower down the order boosted the middle-order rather than coming out as opening batsman.

As Mathews mentioned post second ODI, Mendis is the future of Sri Lanka. Indeed he is. His 20 runs off Travis Head’s over was enough to hand over the advantage to Sri Lanka. His back-to-back fifties have been the key to keep Sri Lanka at the top. Dinesh Chandimal has always been reliable in the middle. He missed out on being the sixth Sri Lankan to secure six successive half-centuries as he was dismissed for 48. However, with grit and determination he carries can provide the required impetus. Mathews always comes handy with the bat at the need of hour. He stands tall amidst the chaos. He did miss out on runs in the first ODI but went all guns blazing in the second.

Dhanajaya de Silva showed the caliber in the Tests but that went missing in ODIs. He is yet to stamp his authority in ODIs after being skittled for single digits. Milinda Siriwardene has been omitted for the third Test and enters Lahiru Kumara. This fast bowler lead his Under-19 team to victory against England in the recent U-19 series. Meanwhile, his teammate who was also part of the Under-19 victory, Avishka Fernando, is also part of the senior team and is yet to play a game for them. He is a top-order batsman and his consecutive centuries against England U-19 helped him earn spot in the senior team. ALSO READ: Ranatunga unhappy with Sri Lanka’s over-dependency on spin

Thisara Perera was effective with the bat and ball in the second ODI. He was charged for breaching ICC Code of Conduct for his offensive action against batsmen David Warner but he continued to play his part and picked two more wickets. He also showed his hard-hitting skills as he smashed a six and four to push his side to total of 288. Seekkuge Prasanna remained unbeaten at 2 while he picked just a single wicket in previous match.

As for the bowlers Nuwan Pradeep continues to remain out of action due to injury. Sri Lanka also have Lakshan Sandakan at their disposal. He made his ODI debut in the series opener. He was also part of the ODI squad when Sri Lanka played a home series against England in 2014, but did not play a single game. Suranga Lakmal will be constructive with ball as well. He fell behind Pradeep in the England series as second highest wicket-taker. He will be the only specialist seam bowler. Dilshan can also try his hand with bowling, although so far he has not been lucky with the wickets.

Pick of the bowlers was Dilruwan Perera who got three wickets under his belt. He picked all the big guns of Australia in from of David Warner, Smith and George Bailey. Though, he did not achieve much success in the second. If there was some bowler who deserves all the accolades was Amila Aponso. ALSO READ: Thisara Perera, Starc reprimanded for breaching ICC Code of Conduct

He pitched one on a length just outside off stump to get Smith and he later plundered with three wickets as he picked Bailey, James Faulkner and Adam Zampa. It looked Aponso could have won the Man of the Match award for the second ODI but Mathews deserved it all with his fifty and two crucial wickets, that of Travis Head and Mitchell Starc. Sri Lanka will need to continue their spirited performance against Australia to take lead in the ODI series.

However, Sri Lanka’s former cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga is unimpressed with the excessive usage of spinners as that could hamper the team’s morale during the next World Cup in England. Ranatunga point does need to taken into consideration as Sri Lanka’s success has largely been dependent on spinners especially with the presence of Rangana Herath during Tests and the current one being Aponso. Although, Sri Lanka are preparing the future, giving chance to youngsters and the luck seems to go their favour after Aponso’s good show with the ball. Sri Lanka will need to give chances to Fernando and Kumara, in order to check the success value they bring in for senior team. ALSO READ: Angelo Mathews: Kusal Mendis future of Sri Lanka cricket

Looking at the past history at Dambulla Stadium, the spinners have been lucky for Sri Lanka. Muttiah Muralitharan took four wickets against England in 2001 and won by 5 wickets. As for the second ODI match held here, Sri Lanka lost the match against Pakistan by margin of 6 wickets, thanks to Mohammad Hafeez century. One of the newest stadiums in Sri Lanka, it has hosted just 4 matches so far that includes two ODIs and two T20Is. With Australia under new captaincy and Sri Lanka playing their third ODI for the last time with their experienced batsman Dilshan, it is a do or die situation.

(Shruti Hariharan is Content Writer with CricketCountry. You can follow her on Twitter at @Shruti_2890)