Aussie selection gamble backfires in major ODI shock as Warner suffers 99 heartbreak

Sri Lanka v Australia 4th ODI Highlights | 06:47
AFP and Zac Rayson from Fox Sports

Charith Asalanka’s maiden one-day international century and an inspired spin attack led Sri Lanka to a thrilling four-run series-clinching win over Australia on Wednesday (AEST).

The left-handed Asalanka made 110 to guide Sri Lanka to 258 all out, a total that proved just enough to hand the hosts an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match series in Colombo.

Opener David Warner’s 99 went in vain as Australia were bowled out for 254 and the island nation won its first bilateral series against the Aussies in over a decade.

They last won in 2010.

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Spinners Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay and fast bowler Chamika Karunaratne, who was the only regular seamer in the team, took two wickets each.

Pat Cummins’ late cameo of 35 and a 12-ball 15 by number 10 Matthew Kuhnemann, who hit three fours as Australia needed 19 from the 50th over, gave Sri Lanka a scare.

Australia lost skipper Aaron Finch for nought with Karunaratne trapping the opener lbw.

Warner kept his cool and put on 63 runs with Mitchell Marsh who looked good for his 26 before he fell to Dunith Wellalage’s left-arm spin.

Australia lost Marnus Labuschagne and wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey after they got starts but fell to the Sri Lankan spinners.

The usually attacking Warner held fort to try and grind down the opposition attack as he got Travis Head for company and the two stitched together 58 runs for the fifth wicket.

De Silva bowled the left-handed Head for 27 and Maheesh Theekshana got Glenn Maxwell trapped lbw for one with a successful review after the on-field umpire denied the appeal.

But the big moment came when the left-handed Warner missed out on his ton after getting stumped off de Silva as the home team celebrated the key wicket.

Warner falls agonisingly short of ton | 00:42

Cameron Green and Cummins attempted to turn the chase on in a 31-run stand but Vandersay bowled Green.

Cummins departed in the 49th over but Kuhnemann fought till the end before getting out on the final ball.

Earlier, desperate to bounce back from a crushing six-wicket defeat to a record-breaking Sri Lanka in the third ODI, Australia won the toss and opted to field first, having struggled to bowl in dewy conditions last time out.

Despite the failure of Australia’s part-time spinners to make an impact in the previous match on the same Colombo pitch, selectors decided not to include spinner Mitchell Swepson, instead reintroducing only Pat Cummins for Jhye Richardson.

It was a decision sure to face some scrutiny as Sri Lanka benefited from a wide range of spin options — the bowled 43 overs of spin — while Australia had only rookie Kuhnemann as a specialist, and Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell as part timers.

Australia got off to a dream start in the field, claiming a trio of wickets in the opening 10 overs - with three different bowlers claiming a wicket in their first over.

First, Maxwell had Niroshan Dickwella (1) stumped in just the second over of the match. Then in the seventh over, Pat Cummins entered the attack and bowled the dangerous Kusal Mendis off a thick inside-edge, leaving Sri Lanka 2-26.

Pat Cummins was brutally unlucky to miss out on a wicket.Source: FOX SPORTS

Soon afterwards, Marsh had the impressive Pathum Nissanka - who scored a century in the third ODI - caught behind for just 13 after an outside edge gifted gloveman Alex Carey a simple catch.

After 10 overs, Sri Lanka were 3-35. But Dhananjaya de Silva and Charith Asalanka steadied the ship and soon had Australia on the back foot, with the visitors leaking boundaries. However, Asalanka was lucky not to be dismissed for a single run, having seen Pat Cummins clip his leg stump only for the bail not to fall - the second time in the first 11 overs that occurred, after a Kuhnemann ball earlier deflected into the wickets.

Dhananjaya and Asalanka notched a 100-run partnership in as many balls, before Marsh halted their momentum with a crucial second wicket of Dhananjaya (60 off 61) thanks to a superb Maxwell catch.

Charith Asalanka passed 50, before running out captain Shanaka (4) the next ball, leaving Sri Lanka 5-150 with just over 20 overs to play. Asalanka then added a 50-run partnership with 19-year-old Dunith Wellalage as Sri Lanka crossed the 200-run mark with 10 overs to play.

Wellalage was caught in the deep off spinner Kuhnemann on 19 off 35, trying to increase the pace of the innings, with Sri Lanka 6-207 in the 41st over. Kuhnemann soon bagged a double when he had Chamika Karunaratne LBW (7) upon review, with gloveman Alex Carey convincing his captain Aaron Finch to turn to DRS.

Asalanka brought up his maiden 100 off just 99 balls, before falling for 110 off 106 in the 48th over. He was obviously weary from his efforts in the oppressive conditions, and was caught at long on by Aaron Finch off a Cummins slower ball.

Jeffrey Vandersay was run out (0 off 2) by Cummins in the deep after a poor piece of running between the wickets, before Sri Lanka’s final batter Maheesh Theekshana made a stunningly poor decision to attempt a run on the final ball of the 49th over. Wanindu Hasaranga, Sri Lanka’s superstar all-rounder, had returned from injury and blasted 21* off 20, and was down on his haunches waiting for Theekshana to block out the final ball of the over so Hasaranga could take strike for the final over of the innings.

Theekshana foolishly attempted a run, and was run out by substitute Mitchell Swepson, ending the innings one over premature.

Cummins finished with 2-37 off his nine overs to go with a run out, while Marsh had 2-29 off seven overs. Kuhnemann had 2-56 off eight overs. Josh Hazlewood bowled better than his figures of 0-45 suggested.

The final match is on Friday at the same venue.

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