Splendid victory for Sri Lanka

Islanders put India in must-win position after stunning Australia

Sri Lanka chased down 280 with four balls to spare to clinch a confidence-boosting three-wicket win over Australia in their one-day match in Hobart on Friday and take top spot in the tri-series tournament. 

agony, and ecstasy: Brett Lee is distraught as Nuwan Kulasekara (centre) and Thisara Perera celebrate Sri Lanka’s  remarkable win over Australia in a tri-series encounter at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Friday. AP
Fired by half-centuries from captain and man of the match Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal, the tourists were ushered to victory by a brilliant cameo from all-rounder Thisara Perera, who blasted an unbeaten 21 off 11 balls in the final few overs. 

Perera smacked a six and a four in consecutive balls to leave his team needing only three runs from the final over and paceman Nuwan Kulasekara bashed a boundary through the covers to bring up the winning runs. 

Sri Lanka now top the table with 15 points from six games, one point more than second-placed Australia. Sri Lanka’s win left India (10 points from six matches) with the arduous task of winning both the remaining matches to make it to the final. All the three teams have two games to go and all of them have a chance to make it to the finals. If India win both the matches, Sri Lanka and Australia will be fighting for the other spot in the final.

Australia captain Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bat in glorious sunshine on a flat pitch at Bellerive Oval, and enjoyed a 154-run stand with Peter Forrest after openers Matt Wade and Dave Warner both fell cheaply. 

Forrest, promoted to three after former skipper Ricky Ponting was dropped from the side earlier this week, marked his fourth one-day match with a glittering 104. 

The 26-year-old blasted two sixes and 10 boundaries in his 138-ball knock before his post-century celebrations ended quickly at the hands of Angelo Mathews. Deceived by a slower ball, Forrest attempted to slog over the covers, but succeeded only in skying a simple catch to Farveez Maharoof. 

Mathews also removed Clarke for 72 two overs prior to Forrest’s dismissal, the Australia captain slogging over midwicket to Thisara Perera, who took a brilliant catch just above the grass after sprinting from the boundary. 

Michael and David Hussey combined for a quickfire 42-run stand but paceman Lasith Malinga took the wind from Australia’s sails when he bowled the former for 21 with a sizzling yorker. 

All-rounder Dan Christian was stumped for six after charging down the wicket to meet spinner Rangana Herath, and Australia managed only 30 runs from their last five overs to give the tourists hope of reeling in the total. 

Sparked by a belligerent Jayawardene, Sri Lanka marched to 51 in eight overs before Tillakaratne Dilshan was out for three, pulling a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery straight to Forrest at deep square leg. 

The Sri Lankan captain marched on with a 45-run stand with wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara, who fell for 22, poking an edge to Warner at backward point off an innocuous delivery from Christian. 

Jayawardene added another 49 with Dinesh Chandimal before being stumped, deceived by a venomous, turning ball from spinner Xavier Doherty. 

Chandimal’s 80 drove Sri Lanka to 243 for five before he was trapped in front by paceman Ryan Harris, who caught Maharoof for five off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus in the following over. 

AUSTRALIA
Wade c J’dene b Kulasekara5
Warner c Sangakkara b Maharoof7
Forrest c Maharoof b Mathews104 
Clarke c Perera b Mathews72
M Hussey b Malinga21
D Hussey (not out)40
Christian st Sangakkara b Herath6
Lee (not out)20
Extras (B-1, LB-1, W-3)5
Total  (for 6 wkts, 50 overs)280  
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-27, 3-181, 4-201, 5-243, 6-250.  
Bowling: Malinga 10-0-56-1, Kulasekara 10-0-59-1, Maharoof 10-0-40-1, Herath 9-0-45-1, Mathews 7-0-43-2, Perera 4-0-35-0.
SRI LANKA
J’dene st Wade b Doherty85
Dilshan c Forrest b Hilfenhaus3
Sangakkara c Warner b Christian22
Chandimal lbw Harris80
T’imanne c H’fenhaus b Christian24
Mathews c Warner b Christian24
Maharoof c Harris b Hilfenhaus5
Perera (not out)21
Kulasekara (not out)4
Extras (B-1, LB-6, W-8)15
Total (for 7 wkts, 49.2 overs)283 
Fall of wickets: 1-55, 2-90, 3-153, 4-202, 5-243, 6-250, 7-267.
Bowling: Lee 9.2-0-63-0, Hilfenhaus 10-0-51-2, Harris 6-0-43-1, Christian 8-0-53-3, Doherty 10-1-35-1, Clarke 5-0-27-0, D Hussey 1-0-4-0.

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