Never has a squash ball drawn so much attention in the cricket world. And never has a World Cup final ended in such farcical circumstances. But neither of those took any of the gloss off one of Adam Gilchrist’s finest innings.
A remarkable half-century from Aaron Finch has lifted Australia to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka for an unassailable 3-1 lead in the one-day international series.
Chasing a relatively modest victory target of 213, Australia reached 4-217 to haul in the target off just 31 overs.
Finch laid the platform for the successful run chase with a stunning innings of 55 off 19 balls, including three sixes.
The opener hit 16 from the first four balls he faced and eventually passed 50 off just 18 balls, equalling the Australian record mark for the fastest half century held by Simon O’Donnell and Glenn Maxwell.
Stand-in captain David Warner looked briefly set to get in on the act but fell for 19 off 16 balls, while Usman Khawaja was out for a second-ball duck in his first match of the series.
Sachith Pathirana (3-37) took the first three wickets to fall as a remarkable looking scoreboard had Australia at 3-97 off 7.1 overs.
George Bailey steadied the ship by continuing his recent good form with a confident 90 not out as he and Travis Head (40) added 100 for the fourth wicket.
Head survived a major scare on 13 when he was bowled, only for the replay to show Dilruwan Perera had delivered a no ball.
Head eventually fell with the winning target in sight and it was left to wicketkeeper Mathew Wade to win the match in style with a six down the ground.
Australia’s series win comes in the wake of a much-criticised 3-0 defeat in the Test series.
Earlier allrounder John Hastings was the hero with the ball as the Victorian returned career-best figures of 6-45.
Opener Dhananjaya de Silva was the mainstay of the Sri Lankan innings with a controlled knock of 76 from 87 deliveries.
De Silva and captain Angelo Mathews put on 84 for the fourth wicket, before the latter retired hurt with a calf strain and Sri Lanka never recovered their momentum.
Mathews returned at the fall of the eighth wicket and was eventually last man out off the final ball of the innings for 40.
Mitchell Starc (1-51) claimed a wicket in the opening over for the fourth successive match, but for once the paceman was not the headline act with the ball.
The final match of the series will be played in Pallekele on Sunday, with a two-match Twenty20 series to follow.