A hat-trick from James Faulkner and a gritty Mathew Wade half-century were to no avail as Australia crumbled to a hefty 82-run defeat against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Wednesday night.
Only wicketkeeper Wade’s career-best knock of 76 from 88 deliveries kept Australia’s innings together against Sri Lanka’s spin-heavy attack, but it was nowhere enough to stop the home side restoring parity after two matches of the five-match series.
The home side were on top from the start of Australia’s pursuit of 289, with fast-scoring openers David Warner (1) and Aaron Finch (4) dismissed cheaply.
Steve Smith (30), George Bailey (27) and Travis Head (31) all got starts, but hauling in what would have been a record run-chase for Australia in Sri Lanka never looked likely.
The wicket was more settled than the one used for Sunday’s opening match, but Sri Lanka’s spinners, most notably Seekkuge Prasanna (1-48) and Amila Aponso (4-18), were a constant threat.
Yet it was the hosts seamers that did much of the damage led by Thisara Perera (3-33), who claimed three of the top order, and Matthews (2-17).
Australia were eventually dismissed for 206 off 47.2 overs.
Batting looked far easier in the afternoon session with Sri Lanka winning an important toss and posting 288 off 48.5 overs.
Faulkner collected a hat-trick late in the innings spread over two overs as he dismissed Angelo Matthews, Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera.
The Tasmanian is the sixth Australian to achieve the feat in one-day international cricket and the first since Clint McKay three years ago.
Sri Lanka lost 5-27 as their innings ended abruptly, but the damage had long been done with Kusal Mendis top-scoring after posting a run-a-ball 69 for his second successive 50.
Dinesh Chandimal hit a smart 48 sharing a 125-run third wicket partnership with Mendis, while there was another century partnership (103) for the sixth wicket between captain Matthews (57 from 60 deliveries) and Kusal Perera (54 from 53).
Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa bowled impressively midway through the innings to earn figures of 3-42 from his ten overs.
Mitchell Starc (3-53) claimed a wicket in the first over of the match, just as he did in Sundays three-wicket win, and he returned to wrap up the tail.
The series will continue in Dambulla on Sunday.