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Saturday, February 09, 2008

At last a result as Australia defeat Sri Lanka: ODI#3

Australia 6/253 [50 0vers] (M Clarke 77 no, A Gilchrist 61, M Hayden 42 defeated Sri Lanka 125 [31.3 overs] (K Sangakkara 42, N Bracken 5/47) by 128 runs with 111 balls to spare at the SCG.

Sydney's monsoon paused long enough to allow Australia to bat first, post a healthy score and then bowl Sri Lanka out cheaply. On paper it was a convincing win, but while Kumar Sangakkara was still at the crease and firing well, that outcome was by no means certain. When Nathan Bracken had him lbw for 42/ 41b with a beautiful ball which cut back it was 4/74. Although more than 30 overs remained the Sri Lankans threw the game away with a combination of bad strokeplay and stupid running between the wickets.

Bracken's 8.3-0-47-5 deservedly won him the player of the match award, though in many other circumstances Michael Clarke's 77 no/86b would have been enough to take the prize. By almost anyone else's standards Adam Gilchrist's 61 in 81 balls as opener would also be a contender but he was slow to get out of the blocks and Matthew Hayden made most of the early running (and runs): 41 of the first 53. Gilchrist subsequently accelerated but it was Hayden's, not his, aggression which remained in the mind.

The Sri Lanka attack began sloppily, regrouped when Muttiah Muraliduran came on, and then, having Australia 5/190 in over 42, let things slip as Clarke and James Hopes, in another impressive performance (34/ 29b followed by five tidy overs for 15) reasserted Australia's supremacy with a 63 run/ 48b partnership for the 6th wicket.

253 was a good total on the SCG. If Sri Lanka were going to chase it down they needed at least two substantial innings: they had only one cameo and no answers to the varied Australian attack where everyone bowled well, apart from one Brett Lee over which went for 16.

The ease with which Australia cruised to victory must worry Sri Lanka, who may still be carrying memories of their unsuccessful test campaign here earlier this season. They're normally a good one day team but in this game they carried too many passengers (the scorecard gives an indication of who these were) to sustain a challenge to their opponents. Despite what some commentators may have suggested before the series began, the prospect of Australia not qualifying for the finals for the moment looks remote indeed.

Scorecard.

Cricinfo Bulletin.
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