WACA farewell for Gilchrist
Adam Gilchrist's swansong appearance at his home turf followed a perfect script as the retiring Australian struck his 16th ODI ton to guide the hosts to a 63-run victory over Sri Lanka in the cricket tri-series here on Friday.
Gilchrist struck 118 on his final appearance at WACA before the Australian bowlers came up with a superlative show to help the side bag a bonus point as well before climbing to the top of the points' table. It was Gilchrist's rather cultured 132-ball knock in the ground he has made his home that propped up the hosts who survived maverick Lasith Malinga's four-wicket haul before being all out for 236 in 49.4 overs.
In reply, Sri Lanka could never get going, losing wickets at regular intervals with only Kumar Sangakkara (80) putting up some semblance of a fight. The islanders were eventually shot out for 173 in 45.3 overs.
Australia's pace duo of Nathan Bracken (3-21) and Mitchell Johnson (3-29) shared six wickets among themselves --- one of those rare occasions when Brett Lee (1-49) was outshone by his colleagues.
Gilchrist was the obvious choice for the Man-of-the-Match award even though his was a rather uncharacteristic knock today --- sans the fireworks that have been the hallmark of his batting. It was on three occasions that the he broke loose and every time the ball sailed over the ropes.
With this win, Australia now lead the table with 12 points from four matches, followed by India (8), while the Lankans have six points having played as many games.
Chasing 237, Sri Lanka looked in tremendous hurry as Tillakratne Dilshan (11) hit Brett Lee's first ball racing to the backward square-leg boundary and three balls later, Sanath Jayasuriya (12) upper-cut the pacer for the second boundary.
Nathan Bracken too got the medicine from Jayasuriya in his first over but the lanky left-arm seamer settled scores with the first ball of his second over when the swashbuckling opener was done in by a rush of blood.
Jayasuriya charged down the track only to see the thick edge fly to James Hopes at third man. Dilshan soon joined him in the hut after Mitchell Johnson struck with his fourth delivery that swung late and castled the Lankan. The visitors were clearly in a spot of bother after the double trouble left them 35 for two in the fifth over.
Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene (21) seemed to have arrested the slide and the Lankan captain had reasons to feel indebted to his opposite number after Ricky Ponting dropped him at second slip off Johnson and the ball raced to third man boundary, rubbing salt to Australian wounds.
The wrong was set right in the 11th over with Ponting making no mistake this time and Johnson finally having his man. Again, trouble came in pairs and five runs later, Chamara Silva (0) was ruled caught by Andrew Symonds off Bracken even though replays showed the ball had touched the ground when the fielder pouched it.
At 76 for four in 14 overs, Sri Lanka seemed to have lost their way. Chamara Kapugedera (26), however, seemed game for a fight as he joined Sangakkara in the middle but before the partnership could really blossom, Hopes removed the batsman, leaving Sri Lanka 129 for five.
Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg then struck a double blow in successive balls even though Nuwan Kulasekara (0) denied him a hat-trick. Sangakkara was the last man out.