David Warner has scored 217 runs and was not dismissed even once in the three-match series against Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
100*,60* and 57*. This has been David Warner's brilliant resurgence in his first series after the Ashes disaster. Warner's 217 runs in the series without being dismissed and continued discipline from Australia's bowlers helped Aaron Finch's side win the final game at Melbourne by seven wickets and achieve a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka in the series. With these results, Australia, who had trailed Sri Lanka for most of their head-to-head history in the format, are now level 8-8 after 16 encounters. Australia were in the driver's seat once they chose to bowl on a sluggish wicket at the MCG.
Mitchell Starc got rid of Niroshan Dickwella in the first over but Kusal Perera finally stood up and played a good knock. Kusal Mendis struggled despite hitting a six but Kane Richardson dismissed him for 13. Avishka Fernando also struggled to get going and so did Oshada Fernando but Kusal Perera hung in and ensured Sri Lanka did not lose momentum. Perera notched up his fifty but in the death overs, he was dismissed by Pat Cummins for 57.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa struck some lusty blows and Lasith Malinga also hit a six off Richardson as Sri Lanka dreamt of a 150-plus score but Australia's bowlers put up a fine performance in the death to restrict them to 142/6. In response, Aaron Finch got going with a six off Lahiru Kumara and the Australian skipper continued to clear the ropes with ease. Warner, on the other hand, benefited from a drop by Lasith Malinga off Nuwan Pradeep and Sri Lanka did not make matters easy for them when Finch was also dropped off Lahiru Kumara.
Finch blasted two sixes off Shehan Jayasuriya and Lahiru Kumara and he went past Shane Watson's tally of 83 sixes, which is the most sixes in Twenty20 Internationals by an Australian player. However, Kumara had his revenge when Finch fell for 37. Steve Smith smashed an aggressive cameo but he fell to Nuwan Pradeep for 13 thanks to a good catch from Lakshan Sandakan at deep square leg.
Sri Lanka sensed an opening when Ben McDermott was trapped LBW by Lasith Malinga but Ashton Turner ensured there would be no further hiccups when he smashed a couple of sixes. Warner neared his fifty with a six over long on off Kumara and notched up his fifty with a single off Sandakan. Fittingly, it was the left-hander who sealed the whitewash when he swatted a full toss off Pradeep to the fine leg fence.
Speaking after the end of the match, Warner said he was happy with his form. "Our bowlers made our job easy at the top in the second game. I'm happy with my form personally. It helps getting back into form with the small total on the board. Fewer risks to take," Warner said. Finch also heaped praise on the total team effort. "When your backs are against the wall, it's important for the players to stand up. When you've got two spinners in the side in Australia, it's different for us, and Agar and Zampa have done extremely well. It was unanimous when we thought about it (the two spinners). Agar is fantastic in the field and with the ball. Warner was outstanding - not getting out in the series is incredible, that's what the best players in the world do: once they get in and they get on top of an attack, they keep it going, so really proud of the batting group and everyone to be fair," Finch remarked.