He hit the match-winning boundary off the last ball last night to cap his outstanding 84no from 46 balls, as Sri Lanka snatched the win from the home team’s grasp.
Sri Lanka have an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series ahead of Wednesday’s last game at Adelaide Oval.
Australia are yet to beat Sri Lanka in a home T20 after five games.
Gunaratne’s innings featured six fours and five sixes – including four sixes and three fours in the tumultuous last two overs.
Chasing 173, Sri Lanka slumped to 5-40 and with two overs left, they were still off the pace at 7-138.
But Gunaratne blasted three sixes and a four off Moises Henriques, meaning they needed 14 off the last over.
After Nuwan Kalesekara was dismissed off the first ball, Gunaratne belted a four and a six off Andrew Tye.
As was the case in game one, it came down to the last ball of the match, with Sri Lanka needing two to win.
Gunaratne smashed another boundary, sparking wild scenes of jubilation among the Sri Lankans as they reached 8-176.
He also top-scored with 52 in Friday night’s win.
Earlier, Australia’s under-strength attack had torn through the Sri Lankan top order as paceman Jhye Richardson impressed on debut and Andrew Tye was on a hat-trick.
But the first full international cricket match in Geelong attracted an underwhelming crowd of 13,537, with unseasonably poor weather undoubtedly hurting the attendance.
Richardson is one of Australia’s T20 debutants along with 36-year-old Michael Klinger, who followed up his 38 in game one with 43 yesterday.
Henriques paced the Australian innings with an unbeaten 56, his first T20 international half century, while Kulasekara ended the innings with three wickets in four balls.
Gunaratne also took the key wicket of Ben Dunk, who had blasted 32 runs from 14 balls.
Australia made a surprise omission by leaving out legspinner Adam Zampa, who impressed on Friday night.
Australian captain Aaron Finch said Gunaratne’s epic knock was one of the better T20 innings he had seen.
“That was definitely up there … a guy who can hit it 360 (degrees) is such a dangerous player and so hard to defend,” he said.
“You have to have four fielders in the circle, so there’s always somewhere exposed and if you have skills like that, it’s hard to defend against.”
Gunaratne, a quietly-spoken character, said with a smile it was the best he had batted.
“I was planning to finish the match at all costs and I was quite happy I could do that,” he said through a translator.
“It certainly wasn’t easy, but you had to come up with some plan… and it worked.”
As Gunaratne spoke, several hundred Sri Lankan fans could be heard celebrating raucously outside the ground.
Several thousand expatriate fans have made the Sri Lankans feel like it was a home match.
“The fact we won the series was the greatest satisfaction… it couldn’t have been better,” Gunaratne said.
“It was like playing at home away from home and the support (we’ve had) is a great strength.
“That made it a little easier.”
-AAPJump to next article