Dasun Shanaka Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Dasun Shanaka Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Dasun Shanaka, Sri Lanka captain opened up on his mindset before guiding his side to a thrilling four-wicket win over Australia in the third T20I in Kandy on June 11. The right-handed batter said he had targeted three sixes in each of the last three overs and is happy to accomplish so.

Dasun Shanaka, who came to bat when the hosts were 96-4 chasing 177, dragged himself to 6 off 12 balls at one stage. However, the 30-year-old changed gears in the 18th over, hitting Josh Hazlewood for two fours and two sixes. The hosts, who needed 59 off 18 deliveries, won with one ball to spare.

Dasun Shanaka finished with an unbeaten 25-ball 54. (Image Credits: Twitter)
Dasun Shanaka finished with an unbeaten 25-ball 54. (Image Credits: Twitter)

Dasun Shanaka’s Plan Was To Hit 3 Boundaries In Each Of The Last 3 Overs And He Was Overjoyed To Accomplish That

Two days after pulling off a heist, the all-rounder Dasun Shanaka admitted that there were only a few innings like that and felt the joy of having crafted it. The 30-year-old stated that he planned to hit at least three boundaries in each of the final three overs alongside the singles.

The seam-bowling all-rounder said: “It was a huge joy to me to be able to play an innings like that. There are very few innings like that. My plan was to hit three boundaries an over in the last three overs.

“That would mean 54 runs [if all the boundaries were sixes]. With the singles we would get, there’d be a chance. There was a chance it would all go wrong, but I was able to do my best. It was great win – not just for me, but the whole country.”

Dasun Shanaka came in when Sri Lanka was reeling at 98/5 while chasing the 177-run target. His unbeaten 25-ball 54 helped Sri Lanka to beat Australia by four wickets and avoid a whitewash in the T20I series. Sri Lanka all-rounder Dasun Shanaka has become the first-ever player to score 50-plus runs in the death overs of a T20I chase.

Although Sri Lanka lost their first two matches and the series, the public was behind their countrymen and supported them passionately. With the nation battling its worst economic crisis since 1948, the come-from-behind win would have lifted everybody’s spirits.

Dasun Shanaka (left) celebrates Sri Lanka’s win with teammate Chamika Karunaratne
Dasun Shanaka (left) celebrates Sri Lanka’s win with teammate Chamika Karunaratne. Photograph: Ishara S Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

In pursuit of a stiff 177-run target, Sri Lanka was reduced to 188 for 6 in 17 overs, requiring 59 runs off the last 18 balls. Australia’s premier speedster Josh Hazlewood came into the attack and the show began. Chamika Karunaratne took a single off the first ball and gave the strike to his captain.

Dasun Shanaka instantly hit the top gear, smashing 20 runs off the next four deliveries (6, 6, 4, 4) to send the Aussies in a state of shock. The Sri Lanka skipper started off the penultimate over with a six and smashed two boundaries, bringing down the equation to 19 needed off the final 6 balls.

Kane Richardson, who came to defend those 19 runs, succumbed under pressure and delivered two consecutive wides at the beginning. Following a couple of singles, Dasun Shanaka charged again with back-to-back boundaries and leveled the score with a maximum. The Aussie quick then bowled another wide and Sri Lanka ended the series with a win to remember.

Dasun Shanaka Appreciates Fans For Support In Tough Times

Dasun Shanaka thanked the people of Sri Lanka for coming to the stadium to support them despite struggling for basic necessities. Despite their batters’ underwhelming performances in the T20s, he trusts them to deliver in the ODIs.

“We know that people in Sri Lanka are under a lot of pressure. They are not getting the necessities. Despite that they are supporting us a lot. We are really thankful to them for that. We are getting ready to deliver in the ODIs. The strength of the batting will decide the series I think, because I’m sure our batters will play well throughout the series.”

The first of the five ODIs between Sri Lanka and Australia begins on Tuesday, June 14 in Pallekele. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first in the first ODI against Australia, at Pallekele. The hosts are again playing with six recognized batters, plus two all-rounders, and three specialist bowlers.

Dhananjaya De Silva (IANS)
Dhananjaya De Silva (IANS)

Dunith Wellalage, the 19-year-old left-arm spinner who can bat a bit, is making his debut for Sri Lanka following some good performances against Australia A last week.

Their team combination, however, means there is no space for Bhanuka Rajapaksa, with Dhananjaya de Silva (who was not in the T20 squad) taking that middle-order spot instead. For Australia, an injury to Kane Richardson means that Jhye Richardson plays, as part of a three-pronged frontline seam attack also featuring Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Brief Scores: 3rd T20I: Sri Lanka 177 for 6 (Shanaka 54*, Stoinis 2-8, Hazlewood 2-25) beat Australia 176 for 5 (Warner 39, Stoinis 38, Theekshana 2-25) by four wickets