|Scorecard:||Australia v Sri Lanka|
|Event:||ICC Champions Trophy 2013|
DateLine: 18th June 2013
By Andy Jalil at The Oval
In association with INVESTEC
London – Sri Lanka marched into the semi-final of the Champions Trophy with a 20-run win over Australia with 45 balls remaining. A rear guard action by Australia took the match considerably closer than the earlier action had indicated. Showing great resistance the last two wickets added 65 runs with the tenth wicket stand adding 41, the second highest partnership of the innings.
This was the match which would settle the position for one semi-final, with India already placed in the last four. There were myriad permutations hinging on the result of the match. Although a straightforward win would put Sri Lanka among the last four, however, for them to head Group A they would need to restrict Australia to a total of 164 which they failed to do despite looking very likely halfway through the innings.
Australia began their reply with a major task of not just overtaking the Sri Lanka total of 253 but having to do so in only 29.1 overs, such was the calculation for them to qualify for the semi-final on a better run rate than New Zealand or else their neighbours from across the Tasman sea would go through. A Sri Lanka win would eliminate both teams from the Antipodes. India, who head Group B will now play Sri Lanka on Thursday in Cardiff, while England, leaders of Group A meet South Africa the day before in London in the first semi-final.
After losing their first wicket early with Shane Watson bowled for five in the second over, Australia were going very speedily at nine runs an over to reach 45 in only 5.1overs. But then a dramatic collapse took place with four wickets falling in a space of 35 runs. Nuwan Kulasekera had accounted for the first two.
With some fierce hitting Glenn Maxwell had got 32 from only twenty balls when Lasith Malinga bowled him before George Bailey was run out from a direct hit to the bowler’s end and that was four for 69. After Mitchell Marsh was bowled by Angelo Mathews with a ball that just moved away from him, Australia had their highest stand on the innings.
Matthew Wade and Adam Voges put on 47 from 37 balls but with Wade held for 31 from 23 balls which included a six and 4 fours, Kulasekera had taken three wickets for 36 at that stage. While the seventh and eighth wickets fell in quick succession on 163 and 168, Voges was attempting to hold the innings together. But just one short of a half century he went for a big drive and was held at long-on.
Taking the last wicket was causing concern to the Sri Lankans with Clint Mackay beating his previous highest ODI to hit 30 and Xavier Doherty also registering his highest ODI score of 15. They put on 41 from 75 balls before Tillakaratna Dilshan brought relief to his side with a great one-handed return catch. He showed his delight running half the length of the field with his team-mates pursuing.
Earlier, man-of-the-match Mahela Jayawardene with a marvellous unbeaten innings of 84 from just 81 balls with eleven boundaries guided his side to a competitive total. Australia had struck early after asking Sri Lanka to bat first under a cloudy sky. Kusal Parera cracked the first ball from Mitchell Johnson square for four and saw the next one go for four leg-byes. But Johnson trapped him plumb leg before wicket with the third ball which moved from leg to middle stump.
Australia then claimed the bigger prize having the prolific scorer Kumar Sangakkara held at point. It was a ball of full length and just outside the off stump from Doherty that tempted Sangakkara to drive. He played the right stroke but couldn’t keep it low and Glenn Maxwell took an overhead catch. That was 20 for two after just 3.2 overs.
The third wicket stand between Lahiru Thirimanne and Tillakaratne Dilshan brought some recovery with 72 runs added in 19 overs. It was a position from which neither batsman could takes chances with any risky strokes. But the introduction of spin broke the stand with Dilshan, in attempting to force the ball to the on side got a leading edge which brought a great one-handed diving catch from Shane Watson at slip.
Australia went on to claim two wickets after modest stands for the fourth and fifth wickets. Meanwhile Thirimanne brought up his fifth ODI half century from 72 balls while his partner the experienced Mahela Jayawardene picked up the scoring rate. He struck boundaries off consecutive balls from Glenn Maxwell, first a sweep followed by a reverse sweep.
On 57 from 86 balls Thirimanne pulled a rising ball from Johnson to mid-wicket to give Watson his second catch. Jayawardene looked well set and kept the scoreboard moving while Australia had the sixth wicket on 159 with Angelo Mathews bowled by Faulkner. He missed a ball which flicked the off stump just enough to dislodge the bails.
Jayawardene kept progressing and brought up his 67th ODI fifty from 57 balls and in the process he had reached the milestone of eleven thousand runs in the 50-over format. He celebrated that with two successive boundaries off Johnson, a square cut and a glance. Johnson, finishing with three for 48, had Dinesh Chandimal, who hit the only six of the innings, for his third victim when he was held by Phil Hughes at long-on for a quick 31 off 32 balls.
By the time the seventh wicket fell on 235 in the 48th over, with the run out of Nuwan Kulasekera for six, Jayawardene was on 71 and went on to add 18 for the eighth and ninth wickets.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2013 Andy Jalil)