Friday 15 February 2008 

Gilchrist's Farewell Century Helps Seal 63-Run Win


Australia 236 (Gilchrist 118, Clarke 43, Malinga 4-47)
Sri Lanka 173 (Sangakkara 80, Bracken 3-21, Johnson 3-29)

Australia won by 63 runs

Adam Gilchrist rolled back the years with a fantastic 118 in his final game in Perth, and Nathan Bracken picked up three for 21 as Australia defeated Sri Lanka by 63 runs.

Sri Lanka began their pursuit of the 237 runs they needed for victory in blistering fashion, scoring 16 off the first over.

Just as Sanath Jayasuriya looked as though he was going to take the Australian bowlers to task he was caught by James Hopes off the bowling of Bracken for 12 from ten balls to leave Sri Lanka 29-1 from three overs.

Makeshift opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan who made a match-winning half-century for Sri Lanka in their previous game against India, followed Jayasuriya back to the pavilion in the very next over when he was bowled by Mitchell Johnson for 11 to leave Sri Lanka wobbling.

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene continued to go hard at the Australian bowling, as the Sri Lankan 50 came up in just the eighth over.

Sri Lanka clearly felt that the best way to chase down the relatively modest total that they needed was to keep scoring at a very healthy run rate. Indeed they were 65-2 after ten overs, but in the very next over skipper Jayawardene was caught by Ricky Ponting at slip off the bowling of Johnson, for 21 to leave Sri Lanka 71-3 and the game was wide open.

Chamara Silva never looked comfortable at the crease, he faced ten balls without scoring a run. Finally looking to show some aggression with a well timed cover drive he was dismissed courtesy of a spectacular diving catch by Andrew Symonds which left Sri Lanka 71-4 and in trouble.

Losing four early wickets seemed to gradually slow down Sri Lanka�s progress as they found themselves 91-4 after 21 overs.

It could have got even worse for Sri Lanka, but the usually reliable Matthew Hayden dropped a simple chance at slip, which would have seen the back of Kapugedera for 16, but as it stood Sri Lanka were 107-4 from 27 overs and the momentum seemed lost as the Australian bowlers with great discipline and control were really stifling the Sri Lankan batsmen.

Despite the fact that Sri Lanka were scoring at a very slow rate, with six wickets in hand Australia were starting to get anxious the longer Chamara Kapugedera and Sangakkara stayed together, although the 53-run partnership was broken when Kapugedera was caught at midwicket by Michael Hussey, attempting to clear the ropes, to leave his team 129-5 and leave Sri Lanka�s hopes pinned firmly on the shoulders of Sangakkara.

Farveez Maharoof tried to give Sangakkara the support that he desperately needed, if Sri Lanka were to have any chance of pulling off an upset. However by this stage the required run rate was approaching seven runs an over. Aware that big shots were needed Maharoof tried to launch a short ball from Bradd Hogg out of the ground, but only succeeded in picking out Brad Haddin, the substitute fielder. Maharoof made seven and his dismissal left Sri Lanka 159-6, and when Chaminda Vaas was caught behind the very next ball, the game was all but over for Sri Lanka.

Wickets continued to tumble and Kumar Sangakkara was the last man to fall, bowled by Brett Lee for a valiant 80 as Australia won comprehensively by 63 runs.

Earlier in the day Australia had won the toss and elected to bat first, Adam Gilchrist playing in his final international game at the WACA, his home ground, scored a superb 118, his 16th ODI hundred.

Gilchrist and Clarke had shared a partnership of 105 and the Aussies had looked set for a score in excess of 300, but they started to lose their way with a few rash shots, and some great bowling from Lasith Malinga who finished with figures of four for 47, as Australia were restricted to 236.

Sri Lanka�s ground fielding was of the highest quality but a few simple chances were put down.

However they would have been happy to restrict Australia to 236, but Australia have shown once again that they will fight till the bitter end.

Australia picked up a bonus point for bowling Sri Lanka out for under 188, which takes Australia to top of the table on 12 points, India have eight while Sri Lanka remain bottom of the table on six points.

Aaron Kumar
� Cricket World 2008