Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga took four wickets in Colombo on Wednesday but could prevent Australia from taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 series.
Hasaranga scored 4-33 runs in his four overs of leg-spin when the Sri Lankan batsman failed to score once again.
The hosts managed only 124-9 when the visitors won the toss and decided to field in the second T20I. It was his second normal batting performance in the series after being dismissed for 128 on Tuesday.
Australia then scored 126-7 in 17.5 overs for a difficult three-wicket win.
Opener Aaron Finch made 24 off 13 balls and David Warner made 21 runs in 10 balls to give Australia an easy target.
But Finch and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh fell within 20 runs of each other in Hasranga’s spin.
The Australian batsmen struggled against some tough lines from Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera, who took one for 31 in their four overs.
The visiting team kept on losing wickets in the middle to keep the interest of the hosts.
Steve Smith (5) and Marcus Stoinis (9) were briefly on hold and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who also fell to Hasaranga, made a 19-run cameo as Australia were reduced to 99 for seven.
Matthew Wade, who scored 26 off 26 balls and Jhye Richardson, who scored nine off 20, took Australia across the finish line with an unbroken stand of 27.
“There was a little going on, and we know Sri Lanka are a tough team to face at home,” Wade said after his player-of-the-match performance.
“We just knew that we needed to get through and score runs through their two main spinners. It certainly helped that people went down for a flyer in the beginning, so the run rate wasn’t really an issue,” he said.
Earlier, Maxwell opened the bowling for Australia with his off-spin and led Australia’s stringent performance with 2-18 runs in his three overs.
Maxwell was well supported by pacer Jhye Richardson, who scored 3-26 in his four overs, and Kane Richardson, who took four wickets and conceded only 30 runs in his spell.
The visitors kept the Dasun Shanaka-led side under pressure with check lines, quick fielding and timely wickets.
Sri Lankan openers Pathum Nisanka (3) and Danushka Gunathilaka (4) fell early to Jhye and Maxwell before giving some stability to the faltering innings with a 66-run stand between Cherith Aslanka and Kusal Mendis.
Aslanka fell to Maxwell and Mendis for 39 off 33 balls with the help of two fours and two sixes and soon thereafter scored 36 off 36 balls.
The hosts’ innings never took off and the team could only reach 63-2 after the first 10 overs and lost a lot of wickets in the second half of their innings.
Bhanuka Rajapakse (13), Shanaka (14) and Vanindu Hasaranga (12) once again showed weakness in Sri Lanka’s inexperienced middle order.
Josh Hazlewood, the top performer for his team in the first match, bowled four wicketless but tight overs for 16 runs.
Sanka said, ‘We were there, but unfortunately we could not take advantage with the bat.
“Different days, different reasons” [for the batting failures]Today the top order fell quickly,” he said.
Finch said his bowling unit did a “great job” of restricting the hosts to wickets “which probably got worse as the game went on”.
“Matthew Wade also showed us his experience. There was some panic on our part, but it can happen if the crowd is involved.”