Adelaide: Right arm pacer Clint McKay took five wickets as Australia claimed victory in the third final of the CB series by 16 runs on Thursday at Adelaide.
Chasing Australian target of 232 runs, Sri Lanka were all out for 215 runs mainly to the efforts of McKay who bowled superbly under pressure leaving behind the bitter memory of being hammered for a six by MS Dhoni earlier in the series.
Australia thus claimed the best of the three finals 2-1 and the series as well.
The depth of Lankan batting was put to a stringent test as their top order failed to give momentum to the chase. Barring Upul Tharanga (71) and Lahiru Thirimanne (30), all of their batsmen failed to contribute substantially.
Nuwan Kulasekara who dazzled in the first final at Brisbane failed to produce any magical knock even as he raised some hopes with two boundaries off Brett Lee’s consecutive overs after Sri Lanka were wobbling after losing six wickets.
Lee had his revenge when Kulasekara tried hitting him over mid-on but failed to time it correctly and was caught easily by Xavier Doherty.
For Australia, Clint McKay proved to be their ace who broke Lankan’s back with three top order wickets of Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapudegara. He later cleaned up the tail with the wickets of Herath and Malinga.
Chase gone wrong
The in-form opening pair of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jaywardene failed to provide a solid start to the Lankan innings. The beginning was electric as the duo creamed the first two overs for 16 runs. The total wasn’t an imposing one; however, the batsmen looked eager to bring the target under 200 to gain a psychological edge over the opposition as early as possible.
The strategy had worked in the second final and seemed right on track on Thursday as well but for Dilshan, who perished early to Brett Lee. A leading edge towards short cover and David Hussey accepted a sitter.
Kumar Sangakkara started in a princely manner with a crisp cover drive off Xavier Doherty. He would collect two more of those before becoming Lee’s second victim.
Australia smelled blood and Clint McKay cashed in with the wickets of Dinesh Chandimal and Mahela Jayawardene. The former being deceived to be found plumb, while the latter missing the delivery that landed on the stumps. The big guns had failed.
Ordinary show from the Australian batsmen
The fortunes turned steadily in favour of Sri Lanka in the third final. The first five overs were a quiet start from the Australian batsmen and in the next five they surged ahead scoring at brisk pace. The Sri Lankans pulled things back with the wicket of Warner just as the lefty was on the brink of another fifty. Shane Watson and Matthew Wade kept bowlers at bay for the next six overs ensuring no further blow while scoring at a quick rate. However, Rangana Herath’s brilliance in the field broke the partnership as the spinner pulled off yet another blinder in the outfield and Australia lost its skipper Shane Watson.
From there on a combination of smart bowling, some expert work in the field and street smart captaincy kept Australia on the backfoot as they lost wickets in quick succession.
Farveez Maharoof with the wicket of David Warner provided a breather after the openers had pushed up the run rate and then came back to trap in-form David Hussey to give his team an upper hand in the match.
Rangana Herath wasn’t to be left behind and removed set batsman Matthew Wade (49) and later deceived Peter Forrest to see half the Australian team back to the pavilion.
Barring Lasith Malinga, who leaked 69 runs in his 10 overs, it was an overall disciplined bowling performance from the Lankans.
Dilshan, like in the second final, opened up the bowling and began with a maiden. He kept the run-flow in check with the sole exception of his fourth over that produced 12 runs courtesy Warner’s onslaught.
It was the wicket of Warner that brought some relief in the Sri Lankan camp as he was timing the ball perfectly and his exploits in the last two matches were still afresh. Warner edged Maharoof to Sangakkara to depart on 48.
Watson’s poor form with the bat continued even though his 19 runs came at the rate of over a run-a-ball. After this, the middle-order crumbled with Michael Hussey, Peter Forrest and David Hussey, all falling cheaply, thus failing to build on a good opening start.
It was due to the handy contribution from the lower order led by Brett Lee (32) and Clint McKay (29) that Australia managed to post a respectable total.
Another notable feature beside concerted bowling effort from the Lanka team was their fielding. The last match saw Lankans dropping four catches but on Thursday, the team was back to its best in the field.
Dilshan was quicker than Michael Hussey as he took a direct aim at the stumps from the point to catch him short of his crease. Before the run out, Rangana Herath who dropped two catches in the second final was a releaved man after managing to keep ball within his grasps as he took another blinder in the outfield.
Captain leads the way
Australian stand-in captain Shane Watson might have failed with the bat but he made up for it with some tight bowling giving away just 13 runs in seven overs besides picking up two wickets as well. The bowlers strangulated the Sri Lankan batsmen for runs in the middle overs. Lee ended with three wickets but proved expensive while Daniel Christian bowled miserly.
Sri Lankan team put up a remarkable performance as the series progressed and came closer to winning even after being written off during the start of the tournament. All three finals proved to be thrilling contest and the series was a closely fought contest barring one or two exceptions.