Sri Lanka Win Dead Rubber Despite Gilchrist Fireworks
Sri Lanka 221 (Dilshan 62, Jayawardene 50, Bracken 4-29) v
208 (Gilchrist 83, Amerasinghe 3-44) in Melbourne
Sri Lanka won by 13 runs
Sanath Jayasuriya bowled Brett Lee with the first ball of the penultimate over to seal a 13-run win in the final Commonwealth Bank Series group match for Sri Lanka over Australia. The match made no difference to the overall standings as India will play the hosts in the best-of-three final, but today, the retiring Jayasuriya trumped Adam Gilchrist's own Melbourne farewell party.
Before Jayasuriya's late show, Amerasinghe was the star for Sri Lanka picking up three for 44 in his ten overs.
Adam Gilchrist was at his destructive best, as he hit some beautifully timed boundaries all around the ground and one huge six over midwicket. He reached his half century in the tenth over from just 35 balls, as Australia appeared to be cruising to victory.
Sri Lanka did eventually get their first wicket when James Hopes was given out in somewhat controversial circumstances; there was an appeal for a stumping but he was given out bowled by Muralitharan.
Hopes departed in the 15th over for a very well made 28 from 42 balls and his wicket left Australia 107 for one, still well on course for a comfortable win.
Gilchrist followed in the very next over as he was brilliantly caught by Lasith Malinga on the mid-off boundary, off the bowling off Kulasekara.
This meant that Australia were 113 for two. The wicket ended a tremendous innings by Gilchrist of 83 from just 50 balls, in his last international game at the MCG.
The fall of Gilchristï¿½s wicket brought Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke together at the wicket. Clarke never seemed comfortable at the crease; he was comprehensively bowled by Amerasinghe for an 11 ball duck.
Clarkeï¿½s wicket meant that Australia was 115 for three in the 19th over and suddenly Sri Lanka appeared were back in the contest.
After his superb century in Australiaï¿½s last game against India Ricky Ponting was keen for a repeat performance, however this did not materialise as the Australian captain was given out lbw to Kulasekara for one from just 11 balls. This left, Australia struggling on 115 for four.
When Andrew Symonds followed Ponting four balls later Australia were in tatters at 115 for five in the 21st over. Symonds was caught by Sangakarra off the bowling of Amerasinghe.
Brad Haddin did not last long, Malinga got his man trapped LBW for just seven as Australia slipped to 123 for six in the 24th over. Sri Lanka were now in command.
Michael Hussey has a reputation of being one of the best finishers of a One Day innings in the world; he appeared to be biding his time and prepared to bat till the end of the innings when he received a beauty from Kapugedera which bowled him all ends up for five.
The wicket left Australia reeling on 142 for seven in the 30th over and staring their second defeat of the tournament in the face.
The only thing in favour of the Australian lower order at this stage was the fact that the run rate required was a very manageable four runs per over, the big problem was of course losing so many key wickets.
Brad Hogg and Brett Lee seemed to be rescuing the Australian innings as they took singles where on offer and seemed to be getting the scoreboard moving. However Muralitharan, in his first over back since the early onslaught from Gilchrist removed Hogg lbw for 21 in the 35th over to leave Australia 158 for eight and on the brink of defeat.
Lee decided that the only way for Australia to get close to their victory target with so many wickets down was for him to play some big shots; he hit an enormous six over midwicket off the bowling of Kapugedara. However Leeï¿½s partner Mitchell Johnson was not able to offer much of a contribution, as he was brilliantly caught by Jayawardene in the slips for three. It was Amerasingheï¿½s third wicket of the innings and it left Australia 173 for nine in the 40th over, just one wicket away from defeat.
Nathan Bracken provided useful support for Lee as slowly but surely the Australians were inching closer and closer to their victory target. Australia were 194 for nine after 45 overs, needing 28 runs to win the game from the last five overs.
The game appeared to be in the balance, with Brett Lee seeming in control of the situation. Sanath Jayasuriya, brought on to bowl the penultimate over of the game, took the wicket of Lee for 37 to end a very brave last wicket stand of 35 between Lee and Bracken and seal the game for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka can now leave Australia with some pride restored, while the Australians will be hoping that this loss was a blip and come the final on Sunday there will be no such collapses. The Indianï¿½s though will have other ideas.
Earlier in the day Sri Lanka were bowled out for 221, with Nathan Bracken picking up four for 29 and Brett Lee two for 55. Sri Lanka didnï¿½t look as though they would break 200 when they were reduced to 125 for five but a captains innings by Jayawardene (50) and a very efficient knock by Dilshan helped the tourists post what turned out to be a winning score.
ï¿½ Cricket World 2008