Australia's spinners will move into the Test series well-heeled and confident, after setting in motion a dramatic collapse that yielded seven wickets for 33 runs on the third and final day of their tour fixture, at the P Sara Oval. On a surface that had begun to take fast turn, Steve O'Keefe collected his second five-wicket haul of the match, in only 6.5 overs. At the other end, Nathan Lyon tuned up with 2 for 14 from five overs; Sri Lankan XI were dismissed for 83 as Australians completed an innings-and-62-run victory.
"We'll definitely take a lot of confidence out of the victory," Lyon said after the match. "Steve Smith came in today and said: 'Let's really make a statement.' Taking nine wickets in a session to close out a first-class win is a pretty big statement."
Having become Australia's highest scorer as well, in a morning session in which he shared a 58-run stand for the tenth wicket with Jackson Bird, O'Keefe was especially effective against the right-handers in the Sri Lankan side. He pitched on middle and leg, then spun the ball past the defence of Asela Gunaratne to rattle off stump and claim his first wicket. Later in that over, Shehan Jayasuriya was out sweeping to Bird at deep square leg.
Dasun Shanaka was caught behind off O'Keefe and the tailenders fell lbw or bowled to his straighter, quicker deliveries. In addition to the 78 not out with the bat, O'Keefe collected match figures of 10 for 64, raising Australia's likelihood of fielding a dual-spin attack for the first Test.
Lyon was more subdued in the match, and had actually been expensive on the first day, when he was reported to have fallen ill. Despite his figures, he said he was bowling well, and felt well-prepared for his second Test tour of Sri Lanka, which he begins now as a senior player.
"I'm the only one to have played Test-match cricket over here out of the bowlers," Lyon said. "It was good for all our bowlers to get out here and adapt to conditions. A lot of us are coming off white-ball cricket. It's good to spend some time out there and get some long overs under our belt. I've felt I've grown a lot on and off the field since that 2011 tour to Sri Lanka. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
The Sri Lankan XI will be disappointed at the abject collapse, and Milinda Siriwardana will perhaps reflect most on the missed opportunity. He was caught for 2 off Lyon, but will have wanted at least a half-century to firm up a place in the Sri Lanka Test squad. Shanaka has not made a strong case for inclusion either, collecting middling returns with both bat and ball.
Before the slow bowlers closed out the match, Mitchell Starc had taken two early wickets with full deliveries. He bowled wicketkeeper-batsman Manoj Sarathchandra, and had Oshada Fernando caught at slip.
Madawa Warnapura did not bat for the Sri Lankan XI, having sustained an injury to his hand while fielding on the previous day.