The second ODI between Sri Lanka and Australia at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium turned out to be a low-scoring affair. The Lankan inning was cut short after a rain interruption, and the Aussies needed to score 216 runs off 43 overs. After a flying start from their openers, the tourists suffered a collapse. The lower-order batters couldn’t rescue them as the hosts emerged victorious by 26 runs (DLS method) to bring much-needed joy to the Sri Lankan supporters. We look at some of the crucial takeaways from the 2nd SLvAUS ODI.

SLvAUS - Key Performers Sri Lanka Australia ODI stats
SLvAUS: 2nd ODI – Key Performers

The Pallekele pitch

The second ODI was played on a different pitch than the first one. Two pitches couldn’t have been more different as this was a much slower surface. There was a lot more help for the spinners on this pitch as the ball predictor showed the ball spinning 17 cms more on this pitch than the ball pitched on the same length in the first ODI. As a result, spinners were always in the game.

Australia bowled 32 overs of spin in their innings – the joint-most in their ODI history. But it wasn’t just a spin-friendly pitch. The slowness and dryness of the surface ensured that pace bowlers were rewarded for their variations. Pat Cummins had figures of 4/35 off his 8.4 overs, and his success had a lot to do with the variations on offer from the pitch.

Glenn Maxwell relishes Sri Lanka as opponents SLvAUS Australia ODI stats
Glenn Maxwell relishes Sri Lanka as opponents

An Australian collapse

In the first ODI, Glenn Maxwell’s miraculous inning saved Australia in their run chase. Australia didn’t look too comfortable in that chase, but Maxwell played one of his finest ODI innings to bail his team out of trouble. Unfortunately for Maxwell and Australia, he couldn’t repeat his heroics in the second match.

The victory was in sight for the tourists when Maxwell was batting with Alex Carey. Australia need just 51 runs off 95 balls when Maxwell fell to a mistimed pull shot. However, that wicket triggered an unusual Aussie collapse. From 170-5 in 34.2 overs, Australia lost their last five wickets for just 19 runs in 19 balls. It was due to an outstanding Player-of-the-Match spell from Chamika Karunarate, who also chipped in with a crucial run out of Carey.

Lowest Totals defended at Pallekele
Lowest Totals defended at Pallekele

Warner vs Theekshana

Maheesh Theekshana got David Warner out of the first ball he bowled at him in the first ODI. On that occasion, he beat Warner’s inside edge to trap him plumb in front of his stumps. But on Thursday, he had an extremely poor start.

Continuing from round the wicket, Theekshana erred by giving Warner room outside the off stump. Despite changing his lengths between good and full, his line allowed Warner to free his arms. As a result, Warner smashed three consecutive Fours off Theekshana to unsettle the 21-year-old bowler.

Sri Lanka showed a lot of heart in the first ODI but were met by a Maxwell-sized obstacle on their way to a win. However, they were much better in the bowling and fielding departments on Thursday to level the series by defending a sub-par score. They would want to take this confidence into Colombo and put Australia under pressure in this SLvAUS ODI series.