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Monday, March 05, 2012

Australia almost snatch defeat from jaws of victory: ODI final #1

Australia 6/321 (50ov, Warner 163, Wade 64) beat Sri Lanka 306 (49.2 ov, Kulasekara 73, Tharanga 60, D Hussey 4/43, Watson 3/33, Lee 3/59) by 15 runs: ODI triseries final #1 at the Gabba. Australia lead best of three series 1-0.

Rarely can one side,  after dominating most of a 50 overs match, have only scraped home in the face of a bold lower order revival from their opponents. Yet this is what happened at the Gabba on a day when, with rain threatening and briefly stopping play,  Australia posted what looked to be a comfortable 6/321, then had Sri Lanka, 6/144 from 30.1 overs, only for them to recover to the verge of an unlikely win.

David Warner 163/157b (2x6, 13x4), his highest score in his 19 ODI career, was the standout, and decisive, innings of the match. It was overdue, though not really unexpected, unlike Nuwan Kulasekara's 73/43b (3x6, 7x4), by far his highest score in his112 ODIs. Whereas Warner batted right through the innings - he was dismissed off its last ball - and made half his team's total, Matthew Wade's 64/72b (1x6, 4x4) being the only other substantial score,   Kulasekara seemed to be for much of his knock batting in a lost, not just losing, cause. He came in at 5/125 and left 93 balls later at 7/248, whenat which point  it looked as if Sri Lanka were going down, albeit with all remaining guns blazing.

So it proved, but not after a few more tense moments as Dhammika Prasad, another with no reputation as a hitter (or batter), biffed his highest ODI score 31*/21b (1x6, 2x4) and Upul Tharanga 60/67b (3x4) bestirred himself. They and the rest of the team kept the game alive until almost the last over, from which an improbable 16 were required with the last pair at the crease.

Australia were the better side and deserved to win, but they should have bowled more tightly, especially when they had Sri Lanka at their mercy. Even their best bowler David Hussey's 8-0-43-4 included two Kulasekera sixes off consecutive balls (though he did get him off the next one).

So now to Adelaide for what should be another tighly contested match.There'll be several players on both sides keen to restore their reptations.

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