Sri Lanka sneak through after Gunaratne fifty.
Sri Lanka 5 for 172 (Gunaratne 52, Munaweera 44) beat Australia 6 for 168 (Finch 43, Malinga 2-29) by five wickets
Australia's "best of the Big Bash League" took Sri Lanka to the final ball. The hosts and their three debutants fought to the finish against the visitors in front of a raucous crowd at the MCG, but a win offered Sri Lanka the chance to wrap up the series at Kardinia Park on Sunday.
The Perth Scorchers' Andrew Tye was left with six runs to defend from the final over, and one from the final ball. Chamara Kapugedara surveyed the ring field then punched the winning boundary through the covers to secure the result. His composure ensured Sri Lanka finished in the ascendant after looking the more likely victors throughout their chase, largely due to a boundary count that outstripped the hosts, 21 to 13.
None of Australia's batsmen were able to go on to substantial scores after Upul Tharanga sent them in to bat, as a spongy pitch and disciplined Sri Lankan bowling denied them the ability to find a domineering rhythm. Sri Lanka's pursuit was then given the desired fast start by Dilshan Munaweera after Tharanga was dismissed in the first over, and Asela Gunaratne's nimble half-century guided the tourists to within sight of victory in front of 42,511 spectators, many of them barracking for Sri Lanka.
Gunaratne also made a brief but notable contribution with the ball, goading the captain Aaron Finch into a skier after he had appeared the man most likely to produce a truly damaging tally for Australia. The dismissal came two balls after Finch had hammered the biggest six of the night, and 10 runs after Michael Klinger's long delayed international debut was ended.
Lasith Malinga, making his own return from a long absence, bowled tidily and scooped a couple of late wickets, while Seekkuge Prasanna gave up a mere 23 runs from four overs that featured 10 dot balls and should have been rewarded with the wicket of Travis Head – dropped badly by Tharanga at point.
Sri Lanka probably could have won it in much easier circumstances than this. They were cruising when Asela Gunaratne was calling the shots but his wicket was an obvious stop gap for the flow of runs. But, they were taken over the line in the end by Kapugedara. It will be something special for Sri lanka despite the knowledge that they were facing only a second string Australian side with the majority of the first team in Mumbai playing India A.
Toss Report: Sri Lanka's new skipper Upul Tharanga won the toss and chose to bowl in the opening Twenty20 international against Australia in Melbourne on Friday.
Sri Lanka's Asela Gunaratne. AFP
Australia, with their leading players embarking on a Test series in India, named three T20I debutants, Michael Klinger, Billy Stanlake and Ashton Turner.
Vikum Sanjaya, who captured three wickets in the lead-up tour game against the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra, was selected to make his international debut for Sri Lanka.
Paceman Lasith Malinga, who last played an international a year ago because of injury, was also in the Sri Lankan line-up.
Australia: Aaron Finch (capt), Michael Klinger, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Ashton Turner, Tim Paine, James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Billy Stanlake.
Sri Lanka: Niroshan Dickwella, Upul Tharanga (capt), Dilshan Munaweera, Asela Gunaratne, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Seekkugge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Vikum Sanjaya, Lakshan Sandakan.
Umpires: Mick Martell (AUS), Paul Wilson (AUS)