Winning series in Australia special – Asela Gunaratne



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Sri Lanka’s hero in the T-20 series win over Australia, Asela Gunaratne has hailed his team’s victory as a special moment. The tourists won the first game at the MCG off the last ball and sealed the series in Geelong on Sunday thanks to Gunaratne’s exploits after being 40 for five chasing a target of 174.


"We had a chance to win the series, and if we had missed that chance, it would have been a big waste. I was really happy. Winning a series in Australia is something special," Gunaratne, who smashed 84 off 46 deliveries with six fours and five sixes said.


There was huge support for Sri Lanka in Melbourne as expatriates turned up in their numbers both at the MCG and Geelong, an hour’s drive from Melbourne.


"There was so much support, it was like we were playing in Sri Lanka. That’s a huge strength for us - the way they were always cheering. It helped us finish the match."


Sri Lanka required 36 runs off the last two overs with three wickets in hand and Gunaratne smashed three consecutive sixes and a four in the penultimate over bowled by Moises Henriques as Sri Lanka collected 22 runs in the over.


"My plan with two overs left was to hit 20 runs in that over - preferably without running at all. Thankfully, 22 came in that over and when it got down to 14 off the last one, that was much easier. Well, no matter how tough it is, it’s something that had to be done. In the end, it worked out," he recalled.


"I was always looking to target those small boundaries" he said. "The longer sides were obviously going to be harder to hit to. It all paid off and I’m very happy, because all I thought of was finishing the match."


Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara paid a rich tribute to Gunaratne via twitter. "The best T-20 ever played by Sri Lanka. What a win. Take a bow Asela. Probably the best knock under pressure. So proud."


Gunaratne’s team-mate Dilshan Munaweera shared similar sentiments. "From a Sri Lankan, I think that’s the best T20 knock I’ve seen. He was hitting such good bowlers - the Australian bowlers have recently played the Big Bash, so they were on rhythm. He made it count and batted through the innings."


Australia skipper Aaron Finch also praised Gunaratne, "The plan was pace off and wide. If he wanted to go to the short boundary over the leg side, make him really fetch it with no pace on the ball. Geez, he hit some clean, didn’t he? He played a hell of an innings. That’s as good a striking as you’ll see. For a guy to be able to hit over fine leg and over mid-off, they’re pretty rare skills to be able to do both, and he hasn’t mis-hit a ball in two games now."


The third and final T-20 International will take place in Adelaide tomorrow (Wednesday).


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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