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Friday, March 09, 2012

Australia wins tournament as quick bowlers cramp Sri Lanka's style

Australia 231 (49.3 ov, Wade 49, Warner 48, Herath 3/36, Maharoof 3/40, Kulasekera 2/40) beat Sri Lanka 215 (48.5 ov, Tharanga 71, McKay 5/28, Lee 3/59, Watson 2/13) by 15 runs with 7 balls left. ODI triseries final #3 at Adelaide Oval. Australia win series 2-1.

After Australia could only, after being sent in, manage a modest 231 with the bat its recently maligned pace bowlers combined to bowl out Sri Lanka  for an even more modest 215 to win, against my expectations, the tri-series  deciding final.

David Warner 48/45b (1x6, 5x4) and a visibly unwell Matthew Wade 49/74b (3x4) got Australia going with a 75 run opening partnership but the other top order batters fell cheaply to a combination of poor shot selection, tight bowling and good 6/151 and 7/177  it looked no contest but Clint McKay with a belligerent 28/32b (1x6, 3x4)  and Brett Lee a surprisingly more measured 32/54b (2x4) took the total beyond 200 and thus offered Australia a smidgin of hope ("something to bowl at" as other cxommentators might say).

Once again Sri Lanka only used five bowlers ( to whom would they have turned if one or two of them had hit out of the attack?). Lasith Malinga  was well below his best but Rangana Herath 3/36, Farveez Maharoof 3/40, Tillekeratne Dilshan (opening bowling and batting again ) 1/41 and Nuwan Kulasekera 2/40 , kept the runs down and the wickets coming every time Australia looked to be getting on top.

Notwithstanding the Lee- McKay ninth wicket stand of 40 and allowing for some deterioration in the wicket (the same as had been used in Tuesday's second final) 231 looked inadequate.

But the Australian quicks struck back with penetration from Lee, accuiracy from Shane Watson and Dan Christian and both from Clint McKay.

Each of the Sri Lankan big (top) four looked briefly menacing but none settled in and all were out with only 53 on the board, two apiece to Lee and McKay . This time it was Lahiru Thirmanne and especially the experienced (and, to be fair, one of the big/ top five)  Upal Tharanga  who (sort of) pulled things round adding 60 for the fifth wicket before Thirimanne edged Shane Watson to Wade.

From then - 5/113 - the storyline was brief Sri Lankan revivals underpinned by Tharanga interspersed with brakes applied by McKay, Watson (generally a steady and perceptive hand as captain though he could have bowled himself more) and Dan Christian. Sri Lanka nevertheless moved beyond 200 and thus within striking range but when Thuranga fell to Watson for 71/122b (1x6,4x4) it was 8/204 and only the genuine tailenders left to support a competent looking Maharoof .

Re-enter McKay, who bowled the last two, leaving Sri Lanka 15 short, Australia victorious in match and series and McKay with the well deserved analysis of 9.5-1-28-5.

So ended the very competitive tri series (which I hope will remain on the calendar) and a long Australian summer of international cricket (made to appear longer by the gap for the Big Bash League). Australia did well to win the tri series but both India and Sri Lanka extended them at times and it wouldn't have surprised me if SL had won. Indeed the issue wasn't decided until, contrary to my early opinion, the Adelaide Oval lights had kicked in and the full moon had risen over the about to be demolished Chappell stands.

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