Chasing Australia's 239 for eight under lights in cool, drizzly conditions, the tourists were hopelessly placed at 107 for eight in the 26th over. But the nerveless Mathews, who is unable to bowl in this series because of injury, showed that he can bat with the best of them, smashing an unbeaten 77 from 84 deliveries with no hint of panic and barely a false shot. He received magnificent support from the unlikely Malinga, whose tempered 56 included two towering sixes off Xavier Doherty and John Hastings.
Malinga did not quite make it to the finish, running himself out when the scores were level.
The honour of hitting the winning run went to Muttiah Muralitharan with more than five overs to spare and one wicket in hand. The result took the gloss off what was otherwise a dream ODI debut for left-arm spinner Doherty, who claimed four for 46 - including three wickets in his first two overs.
The 27-year-old also conjured a spectacular run out as the tourists lost four wickets for 13 - and all momentum - in the crucial middle stages of the contest. The defeat was another blow for Australia in the lead up to the Ashes.