AUSTRALIA and Sri Lanka said there was no lingering animosity from the heated end to Monday night’s Twenty20 match at the MCG, with Australian Glenn Maxwell saying the tourists had apologised for their behaviour.
Australia required four runs from the last delivery to win but Maxwell, who hit the first two deliveries he faced to the boundary to give the home team a chance, was unable get a third, playing and missing a full delivery outside off-stump from Thisara Perera. The resulting bye gave Sri Lanka a two-run win to cement its No. 1 ranking in Twenty20.
A 46-minute rain delay reduced the home team’s target from 161 in 20 overs to 122 in 15 overs. Australia was unhappy at how tardy Sri Lanka was in bowling its final five overs. This peaked when a group of players held an impromptu conference with Perera before the final delivery, prompting a tirade from Maxwell.
Maxwell later tweeted that Sri Lanka’s players had “apologised for going over the top” in their post-match confrontation with him and other Australians, although the batting all-rounder said he, too, had apologised, rejecting any notion of a dispute with senior Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene, a teammate at Delhi in the Indian Premier League.
“I have a good friendship with Mahela, and it’s gonna stay that way,” Maxwell said.
Sri Lanka Twenty20 captain Angelo Mathews defended the lengthy conference with Perera before the last delivery.
“It was a bit nervous. All of the guys got a bit excited. I just wanted to keep it calm and told ‘Thisa’ [Perera] to go for what his instinct said,” he said. “I thought it was a brilliant over. In a Twenty20, 16 runs in an over is sort of easy for the batting team. I thought he bowled a brilliant last over, considering the fact it was demanding conditions. You couldn’t really hold on to the ball – it was not gripping, it was wet, the outfield was wet – so it was not easy.”
Mathews dismissed the spat with Australians including Maxwell and Matthew Wade as “just a heat-of-the-moment [incident]”.
“Things happen, you exchange a few words. They played hard, we played hard. That’s it. After the game we’re friends,” Mathews said.
Australia’s captain George Bailey said he was not fully aware of the cause and extent of the spat, given he had been dismissed early in the last over, but agreed there could have been discontent over Sri Lanka’s over rate.
“I’m sure the umpires were all over that, if that was the case,” he said. “We get on very well with this [Sri Lankan] side so . . . I think it’s all just heat-of-the-moment stuff. What you’re seeing are individuals are teams that are keen to win.”
While Sri Lanka seemed reluctant to resume – Mathews and Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford had a long discussion with the umpires during the delay – Mathews insisted the team always wanted to finish the match.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.