Australia struggles at the MCG, thrives in Mumbai

Debutant Ashton Turner scored 18 and took 2/12 with his off spinners.

Debutant Ashton Turner scored 18 and took 2/12 with his off spinners. Photo: AAP

A last-ball boundary from Chamara Kapugedera gave Sri Lanka a five-wicket win over Australia in their opening T20 clash at the MCG.

The tourists were cruising at 3-151 in the 18th over, before first-gamer Ashton Turner snared the wickets of Asela Gunaratne and Milinda Siriwardana.

Scores were then tied on the last delivery, with Kapugedera pumping his fist in glee after driving Ashton Tye through cover for the match-winning runs.

Sri Lanka scored 5-172 in reply to Australia’s 6-168 from their 20 overs.

Top Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga made a successful return to international T20s – he was on a hat-trick late in the Australian innings, finishing with 2-29 from four overs, and also took two catches.

Gunaratne top-scored with 52 from 37 balls, giving him the last laugh in the match.

Legspinner Adam Zampa was the pick of the Australian attack with 2-26 from his four overs.

Finch top-scored with 43, also passing 1000 T20 international runs.
The opening match of the three-game T20 series was Malinga’s first full international in nearly a year, because of injury and illness.

It was also a milestone night for Australians Michael Klinger, Turner and Billy Stanlake, plus Sri Lankan Vikum Sanjaya, who all made their T20 international debuts.

Australia had several top players unavailable because of the Test series in India.

That tour began brightly with Shaun Marsh and captain Steve Smith scoring centuries on day one of the tourists’ three-day clash against India A, having been sent in at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium.

Marsh showed why he was poised to dislodge Usman Khawaja from the Test side, retiring on 104 late in Friday’s final session.

The 33-year-old is yet to speak with coach Darren Lehmann or chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns regarding their plans for the first Test, which starts in Pune on Thursday.

But he has every reason to feel bullish about the prospect of playing his first Test since breaking a finger at the WACA Ground three months ago.

“As individuals and a team it always gives you a bit of confidence when you have a good day in the warm-up game,” Marsh said.

Shaun Marsh India

Shaun Marsh on his way t a century.

“It (batting with Smith) certainly does calm your nerves, he’s a fantastic player.

“It was nice to spend some time out in the middle … it was a pretty good wicket.”

Australia were 5-327 at stumps, recovering well after the early loss of openers David Warner and Matt Renshaw, who were both caught behind off the bowling of medium pacer Navdeep Saini.

Smith (107 retired) and Marsh, the only two Australians to score hundreds during a miserable 3-0 series loss last year in Sri Lanka, both enhanced their subcontinent reputations in a 156-run stand.

“It (the subcontinent) is a place I’ve always enjoyed coming to … I feel comfortable,” Marsh said.

The green-tinged pitch represents the antithesis of what the visitors expect to encounter in the four-Test series opener.


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