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Sri Lanka gatecrash into Gilly party

cricket Updated: Feb 29, 2008 17:05 IST

Hindustan Times
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Sri Lanka won the dead-rubber CB Series match against Australia by 13 runs. Australia lost their way after Adam Gilchrist went berserk at the start of the innings, before Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken tried to do a late-innings rescue act, before it was all ended by Sanath Jayasuriya. For the Lankans, Ishara Amarasinghe emerged the pick of the bowlers picking three important wickets, including the one of in-form batsman Michael Clarke. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 221, thanks to a brilliant spell of death-bowling by Nathan Bracken.

In reply, Australia got off to an absolute flyer thanks to a quick-fire fifty from Adam Gilchrist. James Hopes opened the batting for the hosts in place of Matthew Hayden and gave Gilchrist solid company before the wicketkeeper batsman decided it was time for the jugular. Gilchrist was particularly severe square of the wicket, cutting and pulling anything short and wide from the Sri Lankans. His fifty came off just 35 balls and Australia were up and running. His innings included a brutal six off Amarasinghe, which was more with timing than the force associated with Gilchrist. Australia are cruising along at 69 off 10 overs.

And then, they lost their way when they had half their side back in the hut after Adam Gilchrist scored a blazing fifty thanks to an inspired spell of bowling from seamers Ishara Amarasinghe and Nuwan Kulasekara. James Hopes was the first Australian batsman to depart - bowled by Muttiah Muralitharan for 28. The ball went past him and the bail came off. It took a while for the batsman to know if he was bowled or stumped by Sangakkara.

Then went Adam Gilchrist for one last time at the MCG, trying to play in the same fashion as he did all innings. It took a brilliant catch by Lasith Malinga to bring Gilchrist's demise as he tried playing the aerial drive once again, with the ball going nowhere except long-off, where Malinga charged around to take the ball in front of him, sliding to complete a tremendous catch. Gilchrist scored 83 of 50 balls.

Australia then lost three wickets in a matter of two runs. Ishara Amarasinghe first got into the act when he cleaned up Michael Clarke with a beauty of a delivery. The ball pitched outside off and nipped back off the surface to take the stumps. Clarke was out for a duck, with Australia at 113/3. Nuwan Kulasekara then dented Australia with another quick wicket, when he dismissed Ponting for 1. It was a fantastic delivery from Kulasekara, beating Ponting's outside edge as he gets squared up. The ball pitched outside off stump and would have continued to take middle and off. Ponting went for 1, leaving Australia at 115/4.

Amerasinghe picked up his second wicket of the match when he got Andrew Symonds caught down the leg side. Symonds, eager to get off the mark, tried to nudge it down leg, but could only manage to take a snick through to Sangakkara. Australia, 115/5. Eight runs later, the collapse got even worse for Australia when Lasith Malinga trapped Brad Haddin with a superbly disguised slower one, bamboozling the NSW wicketkeeper as it struck him plumb on his backpads. Australia, 123/6.

Chamara Kapugedara picked up Michael Hussey with a superb delivery when he bowled one that curled in to the left-hander and snucked past the gap between his bat and pad. Australia were reeling at 142/7 at that stage. Then went Brad Hogg, trapped by Muttiah Muralitharan for 21.

Ishara Amerasinghe was then given the responsibility of finishing things off by the skipper and the man responded by picking up Mitchell Johnson caught brilliantly by Mahela Jayawardene. It was well bowled by the youngster, drawing the left-hander into the drive and the ball took a thick edge, through to Jayawardene, who comes out of nowhere to take a screamer of a catch.

Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken then got together to string in a last-ditch effort to take Australia home. They nearly did. Brett Lee was the aggressor in the partnership that fetched 35 runs for the Aussies. However, he was undone trying to pull across the line, giving Jayasuriya a wicket off his first delivery of the night. All in all, an impressive effort by the Sri Lankans to bowl the Aussies out for 208, surviving the initial onslaught by Adam Gilchrist and James Hopes.

Earlier in the day, In a game that was termed a dead-rubber, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat. Their batting let them down once again as some of the big names failed to stand up and it was down to their captain Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekaratne, whose innings pushed the score to 221. For the Australians, Nathan Bracken emerged the pick of the bowlers once again, bagging a four wicket haul to finish with figures of 4/29.

Brett Lee gave Australia their first breakthrough of the innings, when he removed opener Dilruwan Perera for 5. It was a slower ball at yorker length which came really low and plumb in line with middle. Sri Lanka off to a bad start at 12/1.

Sanath Jayasuriya's tournament came to a very disappointing end after he was caught in the slips for just 23. The ball climbed on him outside the off-stump and Jayasuriya obliged to poke an outside edge on the front foot, with Hussey taking an easy catch at first slip. Sri Lanka, 32/2.

Kumar Sangakkara's innings was shortlived once again after Mitchell Johnson removed Sri Lanka's vice-captain for 11. Johnson bowled it in line with off. Sangakkara was lured into playing a shot and he fell for it as the ball went hard through to Hussey. Sri Lanka, 42/3.

Sri Lanka were in all sorts of trouble after they lost their fourth wicket, that of Chamara Kapugedara for 2. The ball moved off the pitch and left him. Kapugedara left his bat hanging away from his body as the edge was neatly taken by Gilchrist. Sri Lanka, 61/4.

Then it was the captain's turn to stand up and be counted, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekaratne Dilshan strung together a good partnership considering the situation the team was. Both batsmen were focused on getting the innings back on track. The running between the wickets in the partnership, in particular was quite aggressive with occasional boundaries from both batsmen. Jayawardene reached his fifty off 65 balls before perishing one ball later.

Jayawardene, departed soon after reaching his fifty as Australia tightened the noose around the Sri Lankan batting. Brad Hogg picked the Sri Lankan skipper's wicket with a flipper that caught him on the frontfoot. Sri Lanka were 123/5 when Jayawardene fell.

Dilshan continued from where Jayawardene left and along with his partner, Chamara Silva added 60 invaluable runs for the 6th wicket. Dilshan reached his fifty in 67 balls with two well-stroked boundaries. Chamara Silva, who has been off-colour all tournament took his time to get his eyes in and gradually got his innings progressing with some positive running between the wickets.

Dilshan's innings came to an end after a brilliant piece of fielding by James Hopes. Chamara Silva pushed one forward and Hopes did superbly well to reach the ball and threw it underam to hit the stumps. Dilshan departed for a well-made 61, with Sri Lanka at 185/6. His partner Chamara Silva then ran out of steam and tried to charge Nathan Bracken down the ground, only to drive it hard and high to Johnson, who made no mistake at long-on. Silva went for 35, with Sri Lanka at 206/7.

It was almost as though wickets were falling in a pile when Nathan Bracken cleaned the lower-order up for hardly anything. Lasith Malinga could not survive beyond just a ball as he was caught by Hopes trying to pull one from Brett Lee for a golden duck. Then came in Muttiah Muralitharan, who tried doing what he does best - free-up the bat but, Bracken produced a superb yorker to finish what could be Murali's last innings in Australia. And finally, to finish things off, Bracken removed Nuwan Kulasekara who went for the pull, but could not avoid leaving a big gap between the bat and the pad, to let the ball crash into the stumps.

Teams:

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist, James Hopes, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Bracken.

Sri Lanka: Dilruwan Perera, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Ishara Amerasinghe, Muttiah Muralitharan.