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Gilchrist century fails to lift Australians

cricket Updated: Feb 15, 2008 16:05 IST
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Local hero Adam Gilchrist scored a fairytale century as Australia made 236 in their tri-series one-day match against Sri Lanka at the WACA in Perth on Friday.

The 36-year-old left-hander is quitting international cricket at the end of the series and it was his final innings at his home ground.

Gilchrist was given an emotional farewell when he eventually fell for 118 in the 44th over, holing out to Chamara Kapugedera at mid-off from a leading edge off impressive speedster Lasith Malinga.

The wicketkeeper-batsman had faced 132 balls, hitting nine fours and three sixes, but despite his heroics, Australia's score looked under-par after they won the toss and elected to bat on a good track.

In front of a sell-out crowd desperate to see one more big innings from their hero, Gilchrist batted with great determination and unusual patience to notch his 16th one-day hundred.

When he brought up the milestone with a push to long-on for a single off Muttiah Muralitharan, it was the signal for extended celebrations.

The crowd rose as one, a "Gilly" chant went up around the ground and Gilchrist savoured the moment, gesturing repeatedly to teammates, family and the crowd in what became an extended break in the play.

Gilchrist did not produce the fireworks of his 57-ball Test century at the same venue just over a year ago, or his 104-ball 149 against the Sri Lankans in the World Cup final, in reaching his century in 117 balls and 172 minutes.

However, his timing was impeccable from the moment the innings began and there were still shots that were vintage Gilchrist, most notably a big six straight down the ground off Farveez Maharoof and another over square leg off Nuwan Kulasekera to bring up his 50.

He attempted to lift the tempo after reaching his ton, lofting another massive six over backward square leg off Kulasekera and was inexplicably dropped by Kapugedera off Muralitharan on 117 before Malinga finally struck.

Gilchrist lacked support as the Australians lost their way after being well-placed at 171 for two.

He teamed up with Michael Clarke (43) to add 105 for the third wicket, but the Australians were never able to accelerate their scoring rate, losing their last eight wickets for just 65 runs and their last four wickets for only four.

With Malinga troubling the Australians with his pace to snare 4-47, it was the second successive match the home side had failed to last the allotted 50 overs.

Opener Matthew Hayden failed to deal with a sharp rising delivery from Malinga and made just four, a score matched by the dangerous Andrew Symonds, while captain Ricky Ponting looked in better touch but guided a Chaminda Vaas delivery straight to first slip on 25.

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