Big guns boom, take Lanka's fight to the finish
Twice in the CB Series so far, two batsmen have scored centuries in the same innings. And on both occasions, they have ended up on the losing side.
If Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara saw their centuries against India in Hobart last week go in vain, it was Sri Lanka who left David Warner and Michael Clarke feeling the same way at the Adelaide Oval as their scintillating run chase ensured the tri-series will go into the decisive third final on Thursday.Riding on Dilshan's 12th ODI century, and second in three games, and his entertaining 179-run stand for the opening wicket with skipper Mahela Jayawardene (80), Sri Lanka negated the impact of the centuries by Clarke and Warner and cruised to the target of 272 with eight wickets and 34 balls to leave the finals tied at one game apiece.
Had it not been for Jayawardene and Dilshan's whirlwind start to the chase, Sri Lanka would have found it difficult to stay alive in the tournament. However, both batsmen made mincemeat of all the Australian bowlers.
That the Australian bowlers continued to be wayward only helped the Sri Lankan openers who had raced to 74 in the first 10 overs.
And even after the end of the mandatory Powerplay, the duo ensured the scoring rate never fell by hitting boundaries at will. What was heartening to see was that for the better part of the first half of their innings, they hit a boundary either off the first ball of an over or the last.
As a result, the asking rate never mounted to unmanageable levels. And even after Jayawardene was dismissed in the 28th over, trapped leg before by James Pattinson, all Sangakkara and Dilshan had to do was to keep the scoreboard moving.
And even after Dilshan departed, Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal had ample time to see their team through. The former skipper completed the formalities with a swing over mid-wicket which also brought up his half-century.
Had the Sri Lankan bowlers not tightened the screws on the Australian batsmen initially and then in the death overs, they could well have ended up chasing a 300-plus target for the second game in a row. With Sri Lanka fielding just four specialist bowlers, with Chamara Kapugedera replacing Dhammika Prasad, Jayawardene took a calculated risk of opening the bowling with Dilshan's part-time off-spin.
The move worked wonders as not only did Dilshan keep Warner and Matthew Wade quiet, he also succeeded in sneaking through the latter's defence in the fifth over.
Despite Clarke and Warner, especially the captain, upping the ante in the middle overs, Lasith Malinga pulled Sri Lanka back into the game by bowling an exceptional spell in the end. When Clarke and Warner plundered 23 runs off Farveez Maharoof in the 44th over, Australia had raced to 232 for two and looked set to cross the 300-run mark.
But Malinga, with a spell that read 3-0-13-2, ensured Australia couldn't cut loose from there. It was remarkable that Malinga did it without his fielders' support as Sri Lanka dropped five catches. The hosts managed just 39 runs off the last six overs. And that, as Clarke admitted, perhaps cost them the game.