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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sri Lanka just keep Australia at bay: win match and place in tri series finals:

Sri Lanka 238 (50ov, Chandimal 75, Sangakkara 64, Thirimanne 51, Christain 5/31, Pattinson 4/51) def Australia 229 (49.1 ov,D Hussey 74, Watson 65, Malinga 4/49) by 9 runs. ODI 12/12 at MCG. 
Sri Lanka 8 matches/19pts, Australia 8/19, India 8/15. Sri Lanka and Australia to contest best of three finals.

Another fascinating ODI to complete the minor round of what has been a most interesting and even series. Dinesh Chandimal 75/84b (2x6, 3x4) and Kumar Sangakkara 64/93b (3x4) regrouped after Sri Lanka lost two early wickets  and, with Lahiru Thirimanne chipping in 51/59b (2x4), appeared to be in a position to launch a final slog. But Dan Christian (9-0-31-5 inc hat trick) pegged them back to a relatively modest yet competitive 238.

In reply Australia lost 3/26 before acting captain Shane Watson 65/83b (5x4) supported by the Hussey brothers kept the match alive. The Sri Lankan bowlers covered for the injury to Thisara Perera and kept plugging (Lasith Malinga blasting) away. There was no collapse but wickets fell regularly enough to increase the pressure on David Hussey who, with 10 needed from the last over, was caught in the deep off its first ball for a high quality 74/74b (1x6,4x4). [Should he have played Tests?]

So Sri Lanka, whose supporters at the MCG seemed vastly to outnumber Australia's, have secured a place in the finals and India, despite some good performances (in the shorter form matches that is), must go home.

Michael Clarke is expected to be back for the first final in Brisbane, so Australia, despite having lost their last three matches against Sri Lanka in this series, will expect to win, especially as they are playing at home - if not in front of a home crowd.

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