Sri Lanka Reach Finals With Thrilling Nine-Run Win
Sri Lanka 238 (Chandimal 75, Christian 5-31) beat
Australia 229 (D Hussey 74, Malinga 4-49) by 9 runs
Commonwealth Bank Series, Melbourne
Sri Lanka beat Australia by nine runs in a thrilling final Commonwealth Bank Series group game in Melbourne to join the hosts in the best-of-three finals series.
Half-centuries from Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara helped Sri Lanka reach 238 before Australia were bowled out for 229 in reply.
Daniel Christian returned figures of five for 31 to spark a collapse when Sri Lanka batted and James Pattinson marked his return from injury with four for 51.
However, despite 74 from David Hussey and 65 from Shane Watson, Australia fell short as Lasith Malinga took four for 49 and Sri Lanka held their nerve to close out the game.
Sri Lanka lost openers Mahela Jayawardene (5) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (9) early before Sangakkara (64), Chandimal (75) and Thirimanne (51) moved the score to 186 for four before Australia hit back through Christian and Pattinson, who after the run out of Jayawardene by Hussey took all nine wicket to fall between them.
It was a similar story when Australia batted. Openers Matthew Wade (9) and David Warner (6) fell to Nuwan Kulasekara and Malinga respectively before Peter Forrest was caught behind of Malinga for two.
Watson held firm by making 65 in 83 balls while Michael Hussey hit 29 before departing at the end of the 25th over when he was caught behind off Thirimanne.
Watson's dismissal - bowled by Malinga - left David Hussey with the lower order and although he battled hard, his 74 coming from as many balls, the dismissals of Christian for three, Pattinson for 12, Clint McKay for six and then Xavier Doherty for seven left Australia needing 13 to win from ten balls with one wicket remaining.
They managed just three before Hussey was caught by Dilshan off Kulasekara as Sri Lanka both claimed their place in the finals and extinguished any slim hopes India had of still qualifying.
The two sides will play the first two matches in Brisbane and Adelaide on 4th and 6th March and a third final will be held in Adelaide on 6th March if it is required.
© Cricket World 2012