A batting masterclass from Glenn Maxwell helped Australia to a two-wicket win in the opening One Day International against Sri Lanka in Kandy and now the aim is to go 2-0 up in the series on Thursday.
In a rain-affected match on Tuesday Australia were set a reduced target of 282 from 42 overs.
It meant Aaron Finch’s side would have to chase down their biggest ever target against a Sri Lanka side in an ODI, and they did just that.
In their innings Sri Lanka made 7-300 after being in complete control at 0-115 at one stage. Even after the reduced target was set, the Aussies still faced a huge test to get the job done in front of a packed and vociferous Pallekele Stadium in Kandy.
They looked in control at times, only to suffer a number of wobbles which kept Sri Lanka in the game right until the end.
The Aussies were cruising at 2-126, 4-189 and 5-228 before Wanindu Hasaranga took the wickets of Alex Carey and Pat Cummins in one over to set up a dramatic finish.
Thankfully for Australia, Maxwell was there to steady the ship and guide them home. He scored an unbeaten 80 runs off just 51 balls as the wickets were tumbling around him.
It is now on to the second match. Australia can take confidence from the performance and Sri Lanka will be desperate to bounce back. It has all the makings of another thriller.
What: Sr Lanka v Australia, Second One Day International
When: 7pm (AEST) Thursday 16th June, 2022
How to watch: Fox Sports
Odds: Sri Lanka 12/5, Australia 1/3
Australia have taken a huge step forward when it comes to playing spin on the sub-continent. It has been a problem area in years gone by but they can take plenty of heart and confidence from the way they chased down a tough-looking total.
Maxwell admitted as much when he spoke to the media after the win. Australia faced a huge test after the wickets of Carey and Cummins fell. The crowd was excitable to say the least and Australia could have collapsed. Instead they dug in to see out the win with nine balls remaining.
It is certainly a step in the right direction for the Aussies. Maxwell top scored with 80 but there were some other solid performances.
Steve Smith has been criticised for his lack of runs in T20 cricket but stepped up with an impressive knock of 53 off 60 deliveries.
Skipper Aaron Finch is another under the spotlight but following the early loss of fellow opener David Warner, he helped steady the ship with 44 runs.
Marcus Stoinis also caught the eye with 44. So the Aussie batting order is looking in good touch and will look to keep that going in the second match, also to be played in Kandy.
It was not all positive for Australia though. In particular the three-pronged pace attack of Josh Hazlewood, Cummins and Jhye Richardson struggled on the slow pitch.
They took just two wickets between them and were smashed for 166 runs from a combined 26 overs.
Ashton Agar took 2-49 off his 10 overs, while Marnus Labuschagne played a crucial role late on when taking 2-19 off three overs. Australia also had to rely on Maxwell who bowled a full 10 overs when finishing with figures of 0-60.
Finch said in the lead up to the opening game that he did not feel the need to play two specialised spinners and opted to leave out Mitchell Swepson. It was a decision that nearly back-fired but thankfully for Finch and the Australians the batting line-up came to the rescue.
The second game is played in Kandy, before moving on to Colombo, so the Aussies know what to expect from the pitch.
However if Finch and the selectors were thinking about going with two spinners on Thursday they will have to think again as injuries continue to strike.
Agar has injured his side and needs scans to discover the extent of the injury. With Adam Zampa on paternity leave, spin options are in short supply. But it does mean that Swepson should get his chance to shine.
Australia will again be without Mitchell Starc and Mitch Marsh through injury but it is hoped they will be ready to return for the third ODI. Kane Richardson and Sean Abbott have already been sent home.
Cummins has been struggling with a hip niggle but is expected to be given the nod to play in the second game.