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Bracken's fiver helps Oz rout Lanka

Australia win their first match in the CB Series, beating Sri Lanka by 128 runs. Clarke and Gilchrist gave the Aus innings the much needed momentum. Full Scorecard
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Sydney
UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2008 04:53 PM IST

In reply, Sri Lanka got off to a rather cautious start, only to lose two quick wickets - off successive deliveries. The first one to go was the dangerman Sanath Jayasuriya, who played one on from Brett Lee the very next ball after he flashed him hard for a boundary. Jayasuriya went for 7, leaving Sri Lanka at 18/1.

Kumar Sangakkara got off to a flying start, after he hammered Brett Lee for four boundaries in an over. Two stunning pull-shots, a mis-hit and hidden among those a gem of a cover-drive past the diving Symonds, Sangakkara got into full flow.

Mitchell Johnson struck a decisive blow for the Aussies when he got rid of Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene for 6. Jayawardene strode down the wicket and edged what looked like a big booming drive to one outside the off-stump. A bizzare and an irresponsible stroke from the captain. Jayawardene never looked comfortable in the middle, missing quite a few deliveries. Sri Lanka were 57/3 when Jayawardene departed.

Nathan Bracken pegged Sri Lanka back further as he trapped the set batsman, Kumar Sangakkara plumb in front. It was a fantastic delivery by Bracken, with the ball pitching back and the batsman went to defend on the back foot. Sri Lanka, 77/4.

Chamara Silva ended his resistence in the middle when he was caught brilliantly by Adam Gilchrist off Brad Hogg, who struck in his first over. The ball gripped and straightened, took an edge as Silva tried to defend on the back foot. Gilchrist reacted superbly to snap up the catch. Sri Lanka, 81/5.

Australia claimed complete ascendancy in the match when Bracken dismissed young Chamara Kapugedara for a duck. Kapugedara, facing his third ball went for the big booming drive away from the body, it took an edge and Hayden made no mistake. Sri Lanka, 84/6.

Tillekaratne Dilshan became Sri Lanka's seventh casualty as he tried to loft one from Bracken, only to hole out to Brett Lee at long-off. Dilshan, had just stroked a superb six off the same bowler. Dilshan's innings came to an end at 14, with Sri Lanka virtually out of the contest at 93/7.

Another bizzare dismissal! This time Lasith Malinga's turn to fall to one. He played one from Brett Lee to Andrew Symonds at mid-on. Symonds picked it quickly and back-flicked the ball to the stumps, hitting it direct. The bizzare part of the dismissal was that Malinga's bat was firmly inside the crease as the bails were dislodged, but his feet were in the air. Malinga left for 2, with Sri Lanka looking to delay the inevitable from here on.

Chaminda Vaas was Sri Lanka's 9th victim to fall, as he was run out by Ricky Ponting for a fighting 18. Lee, realizing that Muralitharan was backing away followed him outside leg and Murali dug it out. The end result was a mix-up and Ponting slid in at mid-on and crashed down in Jonty Rhodes style with the ball in his hand to send back Vaas.

Nathan Bracken, picked up his second fiver immediately after being smacked for a huge six by Muralitharan. Next ball, Murali went for the pull again over mid-wicket, but could only manage to hole out to Symonds, who made no mistake.

Bracken bowled beautifully to end with figures of 5/46 in eight overs. He varied his pace well, swung the ball beautifully and bowled some wicket-taking deliveries.

Earlier in the day, after winning the toss and opting to bat first on a wicket that had sub-continental character, Ricky Ponting's men piled a competitive score of 253 for the loss of six wickets. Michael Clarke was the star of the innings, scoring a superb unbeaten 77 off 86 balls to guide Australia to the total.

Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist got off to a typical Australian start, dominating the Sri Lankan bowlers right from the outset. Hayden looked the aggressor - playing ferocious shots all over the wicket. His shot-making was at its powerful best - even the carasses and the drives were racing down the ground for boundaries. Hayden butchered his way through to a beligerant 42. His opening partner, Adam Gilchrist, in contrast was uncharacteristically silent, trying to get his eyes in - though he smacked a superb six off Chaminda Vaas to get going. He came into his own when he whacked Ishara Amarasinghe for two boundaries in three balls.

The Sri Lankan bowling attack lacked discipline in the early overs, often spraying on both sides of the wicket. They lacked consistency at the start, but gradually settled into their rhythm as the game progressed.

Just as the Aussies were threatening to go cut loose, trying to unsettle the young Ishara Amarasinghe - the bowler struck back. He was taken for 8 runs in the over before the bowler cramped Hayden, who was batting outside the crease and came further down only to mishit one on the up to Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene to short mid-wicket. Australia were 65/1 when Hayden left the scene. A wicket against the run of play for Sri Lanka.

And then, a smart piece of captaincy from Jayawardena brought a pre-mature end to Ricky Ponting's innings. Ponting tried to open the face and run it down to a well-disguised slower one from Chaminda Vaas. He could only manage to hole out to his opposing number who at first slip, snapped a low good catch. Australia were 88 for two when Ponting departed. Ponting left the scene for 9 off 22 balls, giving Sri Lanka enough time to settle into their rhythm after the initial blitz by Hayden and Gilchrist.

Michael Clarke then joined Adam Gilchrist and began on an aggressive note, giving the innings the much needed momentum. He made the gutsy move of dancing down the wicket and hoisting Muralitharan for a huge six over long-on early on in his innings. Clarke kept the score going with regular singles, that kept both the fielders and the bowlers on their toes. Gilchrist in the meanwhile registered his 54th half-century in ODIs off 67 balls when he drove one to mid-on off Muralitharan.

Chamara Kapugedara, Sri Lanka's change bowler grabbed his maiden wicket in ODIs, as a partnership was threatening to take the game away from the Sri Lankans. He snared the well-set Adam Gilchrist for 61, trapping him leg-before. He came round the wicket, bowled one that dipped low and Gilchrist went across the line attempting a slog. The ball hit him in line, in front of middle with the ball having come in from off and as replays suggested, the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps. Gilchrist went for a superb 61. Australia were 139/3 when Gilchrist was dismissed.

After Gilchrist's dismissal, Sri Lanka tightened the screws, not letting Australia get away with easy runs. Their fielding standards heightened and were backed up by a superb spell of captaincy by Mahela Jayawardena. He brought in Chaminda Vaas for his final spell and as usual, the great left-armer delivered almost instantly - grabbing the crucial wicket of Andrew Symonds for 12. Symonds flashed hard to extra cover as Chamara Kapugedara grabbed a stunner. The ball was travelling and Kapugedara took it at a great height to leave Australia at 160/4 when Symonds fell.

In the meanwhile, Michael Clarke worked his way to a superb half-century. His innings was largely typified by good use of the feet. He handled the spinners with aplomb, putting them away for singles, thereby reducing their effeciency. He reached his fifty in style, with a spanking cover-drive off Amarasinghe, advancing down the wicket. Clarke was largely responsible for catalysing an innings that had gone into a slumber after Gilchrist's return. Even as he lost wickets around him, he kept playing in his usual unassuming yet attacking style, adding a superb partnership late with James Hopes.

Michael Hussey got off to a start that only flattered to deceive moments later. Amarasinghe bowled it short and wide outside-off, and Hussey cut the ball straight into the hands of Dilshan. At that time Australia were 190/5 and it looked like Sri Lanka would restrict them. But then, what followed was an unprecedented rampage that Hopes and Clarke went on, propelling the Aussie total to 263.

Hopes made an extremely handy contribution of 34 off 29 balls, and gave an impetus to the Australian innings. However, he fell in the final over of the innings, caught by Dilshan off Lasith Malinga. Malinga bowled it outside the off-stump and kept swinging away. Hopes came out of his crease, only managing to scoop it to Dilshan at backward point. But, the handy Queensland all-rounder had done his job.

Muttiah Muralitharan once again went wicketless against the Australians, following his virtual no-show against the hosts in the Test series. Chaminda Vaas, who looked ineffective at the start fought back superbly to pick up 2 wickets. His last 6 overs, costing only 12 runs. Sri Lanka have a chase on their hands. But, with the depth of the batting line-up the Sri Lankans have listed, it seems well lit up for a good, interesting fifty overs of one-day cricket.

Teams:

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

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Ishara Amerasinghe, Muttiah Muralitharan.

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