In the three-match KFC Twenty20 series opener on Friday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground it has not been easy ride for Australia to defend the modest total of 169 as they allowed Sri Lankan batters to score freely earlier which was supported with flurry of boundaries and significant contribution in-the-middle from visitors’ – to cross the line on the last-ball with five wickets in hand.

The last few minutes of the game saw plenty of drama, on the bowling of fast-bowler Andrew Tye, when the scores were tied at 168, Kapugedera creamed the ball into the cover region to score a boundary on the packed off-side field.

The middle-order batsman Chamara Kapugedera remained unbeaten on ten off seven balls and Seekkuge Prasanna eight off nine balls. Lankans scored scored 172 in 20 Overs.

The batting all-rounder Asela Gunaratne, who was adjudged Man of the Match played some fine strokes to take his team close to the target. He scored 52 off 37 balls which included seven fours.

The left-handed Milinda Siriwardana returned to pavillion after scoring 15 of 11 balls when he was given LBW on the bowling of debutant Ashton Turner.

Earlier, while chasing the target, Sri Lanka lost their stand-in captain Upul Tharanga in the first over on zero when Lankan score was just five.

However, the 23-year-old batsman wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella (30 off 25 balls) put on vital 74 runs for the second wicket with Dilshan Munaweera to see visitors in command. Dickwella smashed six boundaries in his knock of 44 off 29 balls.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa, and off-spinner picked two wickets each followed by a wicket from fast bowler Pat Cummins.

Earlier, Sri Lankan captain Upul Tharanga elected to field first after winning the toss.

Australian skipper Aaron Finch (43 off 34 balls) and debutant Michael Klinger put on 76 runs for the first wicket before visitors’ bowlers came back to pick wickets at regular intervals to see Australia scoring the meager total of 168 for six in 20 allotted overs.

The 36-year-old Michael Klinger, who received the Twenty20 debut cap alongside fast-bowler Billy Stanlake and all-rounder Ashton Turner for the game against the Lankans scored 38 off 32 balls which included four boundaries at the strike-rate of 118.75.

Klinger was handed over the Number 84 cap by his Big Bash League’s Perth Scorchers and Australian T20 coach Justin Langer before the start of the game.

The right-handed batsman Klinger also became the oldest Australian player to make his debut in T20 Internationals.

After making the first-class debut in 1999, Klinger emerged at the international scene after impressive performances in the recently concluded sixth edition of BBL.

Fast-bowler Lasith Malinga returned to cricket after suffering from injury before illness.

The 33-year-old bowler was the pick of the bowlers who picked two wickets in four overs after conceding 29 runs.

The left-handed batsman Travis Head, who was given a life earlier by Sri Lankan skipper Upul Tharanaga steadied the ship by scoring 31 off 25 balls.

All-rounder Moises Henriques chipped in with 17 off 10 balls followed by debut Ashton Turner’s 18 off 13 balls. James Faulkner remained unbeaten on 14 off 7 balls.

Fast bowler Vikum Sanjaya, Asela Gunaratne and left-arm chinaman Lakshan Sandakan picked a wicket apiece.

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    Tahir Ibn Manzoor is a staffer at Sportzwiki.com, who follows cricket like food after listening to running commentary on a transistor radio when he was only eight, and penned down the scorecard when he turned 11. He Tweets @TahirIbnManzoor

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