Sri Lanka coasted to a nervy four-wicket win against Australia with 30 overs to spare in a low-scoring one-day international at the Gabba on Friday to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
After Nuwan Kulasekera had claimed a career-best 5 for 22, Australia pegged back the tourists with some hostile bowling of their own but it needed a miracle to see them defend a meagre total of 74.
Despite the loss of wickets at regular intervals to a mixture of superb bowling and some rash strokeplay, Sri Lanka ran into heavy weather before chasing down a small target in the 20th over for the loss of six wickets.
Thisara Perera hit the winning runs when he steered Mitchell Starc to third man for a boundary.
Kushal Perera was unbeaten on 22 off 28 balls with four boundaries.
Mitchell Johnson finished with 3 for 11 off three overs while Starc claimed 2 for 25 from seven.
"It was a horrible day. No excuses. But the bowlers did a really good job to take six wickets," said a disapponted Australian captain Michael Clarke.
"We should have bowled after winning the toss. The pitch was fine. It was really good one-day wicket. Gabba has always had pace and bounce," said Clarke who was made to rue his decision bat first after winning the toss.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was back to his fluent best making 22 off 33 balls with three boundaries before being dismissed in a freak manner.
But the day belonged to Nuwan Kulasekara who claimed a career-best five for 22 to skittle out Australia for just 74 runs inside 27 overs.
Kulasekara tormented the right-handers with his in-swinging deliveries while Lasith Malinga (3-14) polished off the tail as Australia collapsed in 26.4 overs with only Mitchell Starc (22 not out) and Xavier Doherty (15) managing double figures.
Number nine Starc took a couple of blows from Thisara Perera on his helmet but hung on to take Australia past their previous lowest total of 70 that came on two occasions, against England in Birmingham in 1977 and New Zealand at Adelaide in 1986.
Kulasekara was on a hat-trick after removing David Hussey and George Bailey off successive deliveries but Matthew Wade denied him the personal milestone.
That was hardly solace for the hosts as the 30-year-old bowler returned to peg back Clarke's middle stump and push one through Moises Henriques's gate for his first five-wicket haul.
Malinga removed Mitchell Johnson, Wade and Clint McKay while Shaminda Eranga, replacing Ajantha Mendis, dismissed Doherty to end the Australian innings.
SRI LANKA INNINGS
Jeewan Mendis commits hara kiri miscuing a pull to McKay off Starc attempting to hit the winning runs with a big hit in the 20th over.
Sri Lanka are 71-6 after 19.4 overs chasing a target of 75 in the third one-day international against Australia at The Gabba on Friday.
Australia were bowled out for 74 in 26.4 overs with Nuwan Kulasekera claiming a career-best 5 for 22.
David Warner drops a skier from Jeevan Mendis in the 19th over with Sri Lanka needing just five runs for victory.
Left-hander Kushal Perera has hit his fourth boundary off Henriques as Sri Lanka are racing to victory.
Sri Lanka lose Upul Tharanga who is brilliantly caught by Clarke at slip off Starc as they seem to be in a hurry to get to the target of 75.
Upul Tharanga gets into act smashing Starc wide of cover the third boundary after the interval.
Kushal Perera cracks McKay through the covers to bring up the 50 of the innings the 15th over as Sri Lanka resume the run-chase after the break.
Perera follows up with another smashing cover drive to end the over.
Sri Lanka lost two wickets in quick succession with Angelo Mathews out for a duck following Dilshan back to the pavilion in the 12th over.
Mathews is gone for a duck after failing to negotiate a snorter from Johnson.
Upul Tharanga denies Johnson a hat-trick and drives a delivery from McKay in the next over to the mid off fence to get into his stride.
Mitchell Johnson strikes with his third delivery in the 10th over with the freak dismissal of Tillakaratne Dilshan caught by Clarke for 22 off 33 balls with three boundaries.
Dilshan goes in a freakish manner shouldering arms to a ball which straightened and took the outside edge to first slip.
Dilshan hits another boundary off Starc down the ground to step up the tempo of the innings in the eighth over.
Lahiru Thirimanme dropped by Bailey at gully off McKay opens his account with a back cut to the fence in the seventh over.
Dilshan hits the second boundary of the Sri Lanka innings hitting Starc straight down the ground in the sixth over.
Tillakaratne Dilshan has hit the first boundary of the Sri Lanka innings edging McKay over the head of Clarke at slip in the third over.
Clint McKay has struck for Australia claiming the big wicket of Mahela Jayawardene who cuts straight to David Warner.
Jayawardene is out for 1 after facing 5 balls as Warner takes a brilliant catch at backward point.
Australia recovered after a shocking start to make 74 in the third one-day international against Sri Lanka thanks to last wicket partnership of 34 between Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty at The Gabba on Friday.
The hosts looked in danger of being bowled out for their lowest ODI total of 70 after Nuwan Kulasekera and Lasith Malinga ripped through their innings.
Australia's previous lowest ODI total was 70 (25.2 overs) against England in 1977 and against New Zealand in (70 in 26.3 overs) 1986.
Doherty took Australia past this milestone before being last man out caught by Mendis at cover off Shaminda Eranga for 15 off 27 balls with three boundaries.
Starc was the top scorer of the innings remaining unbeaten on 22 off 28 balls with two hits to the fence.
Kulasekera finished with 5 for 22 while Malinga claimed 3 for 14 in his seven over.
"I'm very happy. The wicket did a little bit. I just bowled good line and length. It was very hot day but the humidity helped to swing the ball," said Kulasekera who said the scalp of Clarke was "very special".
Australia have gone past their lowest ODI total of 70 as Xavier Doherty drives through the covers.
Australia are 73-9 after 26 overs having opted to bat first in the 3rd ODI against Sri Lanka at Brisbane on Friday with the series level 1-1.
Left-hander Mitchell Starc is saving Australia's blushes with some lusty blows.
He was hit twice on the helmet by bouncers from Thisara Perera but it was punctuated by two hits to the ropes, including one over the keeper.
Mitchell Starc plays the shot of the day when he whips Eranga to the midwicket fence after having been struck on the helmet in the previous delivery.
Xavier Doherty is the second Australian batsman to get into double figures cracking Thisara Perera over the covers.
Last man Mitchell Starc is the first Australian batsman to get into double figures as he cuts Shaminda Eranga to third man.
Australian batsmen are falling nine pins as Lasitha Malinga gets his third wicket.
Kulasekera completes his sensational spell of 5 for 22 including two maiden overs.
Xavier Doherty gets a rare boundary for Australia, only the third of the innings, when he tickles Malinga to fine leg.
Clint McKay goes for a duck caught behind by Malinga who is bowling with his tails up.
Malinga strikes again to dismiss Mathew Wade as Australia look in danger of being dismissed for their lowest ODI total which is 70.
Wade is caught at backward point by Dilshan as the left-hander tries to steer it on the off.
Lasith Malinga has struck in his fourth over castling Mitchell Johnson who survived a decision referral for a leg before earlier.
Nuwan Kulasekera has grabbed five wickets with a sensational spell of pace bowling to send Australia crashing at The Gabba.
Johnson who never looked comfortable against the swing of Malinga is bowled off an inside edge for 2 after facing 16 balls.
Australia's 30-6 is their worst ever start for the loss of six wickets (38/6 vs West Indies at Sydney in January 1996 and vs England at Birmingham in 1977) batting second on both occasions.
Clarke sees his middle stump uprooted after labouring 26 balls to make 9 with one boundary.
Two balls later Moises Henriques is bowled through the gate for a duck as Kulasekera claims 5 for 18.
Sri Lanka are on fire at The Gabba with Australia four down with just 21 on the board in the eighth over.
Australia in shock after Nuwan Kulasekera's double strike in the eighth over.
David Hussey is adjudged caught behind by Kushal Perera off an under edge after Sri Lanka are successful with a decision review.
George Bailey is adjudged leg before after offering no stroke to an in dipper which would have taken his off stump with skipper Clarke deciding against going for a decision review.
Sri Lanka are rocking at The Gabba having dismissed both openers David Warner and Phillip Hughes.
Michael Clarke has hit the first boundary of the Australia innings in the seventh over when he drives Mathews through the covers.
David Hussey opens his account by glancing Kulasekera to the fine leg fence.
Hughes who was out a golden duck at Adelaide after hitting a century in Melbourne is gone for 3 off 14 balls with Jayawardene snapping him up at second slip off Nuwan Kulasekera.
Sri Lanka have struck early with David Warner gone caught at mid off by Shaminda Eranga off Angelo Mathews in the third over.
The left-hander attempting to hit over the infield slapped it straight to Eranga for 4.
Australia have won the toss and have opted bat first in the third one-day international against Sri Lanka in Brisbane on Friday.
Kushal Perera will be keeping once again after Dinesh Chandimal failed a late fitness test while Shaminda Eranga replaces Ajanta Mendis at the Gabba for Sri Lanka.
Skipper Michael Clarke who sat out the first two games as he recovered from a hamstring strain returns to the side along with David Warner, and fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson after suffering a heavy defeat in Adelaide.
The five-match series is interestingly poised at 1-1 after Australia won the first match in Melbourne and Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets in Adelaide.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is undaunted by the return of Australia's captain and several of their other key players and is confident they can maintain the momentum earned with their eight-wicket victory in Adelaide on Sunday.
Sri Lanka rebounded after suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of what is considered by some to be an Australia 'B' team in Melbourne.
But Jayawardene believes Sri Lanka can achieve a series win.
The teams have played each other in 12 ODIs in Australia since 2010, and Sri Lanka have won on seven of those occasions.
"It's good to have Davy (Warner) and Michael back, but we'll prepare the same way," Jayawardene said.
"When we played them last year, we had a good outing against them. We just need to change our game plan a little bit and execute those plans to those guys."
Jayawardene said a turnaround from the bowlers had been key to his side's impressive second performance, where they dismissed Australia for 170 on a seam-friendly pitch.
"In Melbourne, we were not up to standard. Especially with the ball - we bowled too many four balls. In Adelaide we had a bit more help from the surface and we bowled good areas and created opportunities. If we can keep up that pressure with the spinners we have and the allrounders, we have a well-balanced side. Even though we are missing players through injury, and are fiddling around a little with our line-up, we're pretty comfortable."
Clarke on the other has defended Australia's selection process throughout the summer, declaring that the policy of resting players with minor niggles made sense due to the evenness of Australia's talent base.
Clarke conceded that at times during this season the public had not been made aware of injury niggles to players who were rested, although he said the team was wary of revealing information that might be used by the opposition.
However, he said all the decisions made by the selection panel made sense given what the selectors knew about the players' fitness levels.
"There's a lot that is spoken about within the group that people outside the group probably aren't aware of," Clarke told reporters in Brisbane. "We've probably seen some cases throughout the past 12 months where guys have not been 100 per cent fit or had little niggles that probably haven't been communicated as well as they needed to be to the media, and in essence to the public.
"The Perth Test match was a great example. Call it resting Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus (but) the facts were they just weren't fit enough to perform at their best. The two guys who we brought in for Siddle and Hilfenhaus (John Hastings and Mitchell Johnson), we were confident that they could do a better job at 100 per cent than those guys at 70 or 80 per cent."
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