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Australia win by 24 runs (D/L)

Australia have defeated Sri Lanka by 24 runs by virtue of the Duckworth-Lewis method. Ball-by-ball commentary
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Melbourne
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2008 04:53 PM IST

Australia won the 9th CB Series ODI against Sri Lanka by 24 runs (D/L method) after heavy rains intervened at the MCG. Sri Lanka were at a precarious 77/4 when the rain started pouring in with Tillekaratne Dilshan unbeaten on 9 off 14 balls and Chamara Silva at an unbeaten 16 off 47 balls.

Earlier, in reply to Australia's moderate total of 183/7, the Sri Lankans stumbled right at the top, when Sanath Jayasurya grabbed his 31st ODI duck - this time off the first ball. He flashed at a full one from Stuart Clark and the thick edge flew off his bat only to be snapped up by Ponting at second slip. Sri Lanka were yet to get off the mark when Jayasuriya departed.

Clark then removed Dilruwan Perera in no time by trapping him leg-before for 1. Clark pitched this one on the stumps, and Perera could not get as far forward as he tried to flick this one in front of middle and leg. A loud appeal followed, and Rudi Koertzen raised the finger to send Perera back. Television replays showed that the batsman was hit pretty high, and the ball was travelling down the leg-side. A marginal call, going in the bowler's favour this time. Sri Lanka, in trouble at 3/2.

The familiar troubleshooters for Sri Lanka, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara came together at 3/2 and took their time to soak themselves initially - absorb the pressure and then Mahela unleased a few of his classy cover-drives. Sangakkara, was mor intent on rotating the strike through singles and doubles. Jayawardene consumed far too many deliveries without scoring and eventually the pressure looked like getting to him. But for Ricky Ponting, a partnership alert.

Just as the Sangakkara-Jayawardene partnership was threatening to take the game to the Aussies, Bracken broke the stand by removing Jayawardene for 27. It was pushed across to the right-hander in a tightish line. He tried to cut the ball but got done by the extra bounce and the top edge went through to Gilchrist. Sri Lanka, at 42/3.

Chamara Silva joined Sangakkara in the middle and it was almost the duo were stuck to their feet and the scoreboard was stagnating. And then, a moment of erratic batting from Sangakkara and he threw it away when he tried to play an attempted pull shot which went high into the air, where Andrew Symonds at covers pouches an easy catch. Sangakkara went for 14, with Sri Lanka at 64/4.

Tillekaratne Dilshan then joined Silva and the duo added 13 runs before the rain came down heavily at the MCG and the game was declared in favour of the Aussies, thanks to the Duckworth-Lewis rule.

Sri Lanka's bowlers did a magnificient job to restrict the Australians to 183/7 after their skipper won the toss and elected to bat first. Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke did the repair job for the Aussies yet again, as they put on a crucial partnership to take Australia to a score, they could defend.

The Sri Lankan fast bowlers were right on top of the Aussie batsmen, with Farveez Maharoof and Chaminda Vaas exploiting the early morning juice on the wicket. They bowled in the right areas, hardly giving anything away to the two openers and ultimately got rewarded with three quick wickets, right at the start. The bowlers were also backed up by Sri Lanka's brilliant fielding, which kept the noose tightened around the Aussie batsmen.

Chaminda Vaas gave Sri Lanka a perfect start by removing Adam Gilchrist for just 6. Gilchrist came down the track to go for an aerial swish over mid-wicket, but couldn't get anywhere close to the ball. He missed it completely and the ball pitched on middle and went on to hit leg. Australia were 12/1 when Gilchrist departed.

Farveez Maharoof bowled Sri Lanka on top of proceedings after he removed Matthew Hayden for 23. It was a slower ball bowled across the left-hander and Hayden was looking to work the ball to leg side from outside the off-stump. The ball popped up to cover where Silva completed a neat catch. Australia, 39/2.

Five runs later, a brilliant piece of fielding by the Sri Lankans ended Aussie captain Ricky Ponting's stay in the middle. Ponting pushed it forward and wanted a single. Maharoof, showing fantastic committment dived to his right to stop the ball as it was dribbling away. He recovered quickly and threw the ball hard to Sangakkara, who finished the job by removing the bails to send back Ponting for 11.

Australia's latest million-dollar man, Andrew Symonds couldn't hang around for long as Farveez Maharoof removed him for a score of 4. He bowled one which came back from outside off on a good length as Symonds, with lack of feet movement fended the ball away from his body. Australia in deep deep trouble at 54/4.

Then walked in Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey into familiar territory, in the series - with the top order rattled and leaving the middle-order with a lot of work in hand. Clarke and Hussey first left many deliveries from Farveez Maharoof, who was nearing the end of the spell, and then worked Murali away with relative ease. There was the occasional ooze of attack from the duo and they added 90 runs for the fifth wicket. Clarke reached his fifty off 68 balls, while Hussey completed his landmark in 82 balls.

Michael Clarke, then fell soon after he scored his fifty, with the Aussies at 144/5. His eyes lit up as he saw Murali bowl a low-full toss. He drove hit hard at Muralitharan, whose goalkeeper's-tip-over-the-cross-bar-pushed it up helped him collect it second time.

James Hopes came in to bat after Clarke's dismissal and hung around for a while before Murali removed him stumped by Sangakkara. It was pushed slightly quicker by Murali, which left Hopes, who tried going for the sweep-shot. Without noticing that the ball had landed into Sangakkara's gloves, Hopes left his crease looking for the single, while the alert wicketkeeper does the honours.

And then went Hogg, giving Malinga his first scalp of the innings, caught brilliantly by Tillekaratne Dilshan. It was bowled outside the off-stump and Hogg cut it hard to point. The ball was travelling low, when Dilshan snapped it sharply around his ankle.

Hussey was unbeaten on 57 as the innings came to an end with Australia at 183/7 giving Sri Lanka 184 to chase on a wicket that was sticky and batting will not be easy, come the second innings.

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