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Thursday, 24 January 2013

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Aussies win by 32 runs to square series -2-2:

Batting flop by the Lankans

Phil Hughes 138 n.o master class century:

Elmo Rodrigopulle reporting from Australia

The Sri Lankan push for a series pocketing victory failed due to some irresponsible batting and in conceding defeat by 32 runs, helped Australia level the Commonwealth Bank one day series 2-2 at the Bellerive Oval, here today. Sri Lankans were all out for 215 in 48.3 overs to give Australia a win by 32 runs.

Chasing 248 for a win and the series 3-1, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan gave the Lankans a promising start. But once Jayawardene 38 with 6 fours in 39 balls went, Sri Lanka slumped to 77 for 4 with the dismissals of Thirimanne 1, Dilshan 19 and Chandimal 6, Lankans chances faded.

Except for Jayawardene and Mathews 67 from 79 balls with 7 fours, none of the other batsmen made an attempt to get on top of the Aussie bowling and dominate. They looked stroke less wonders, playing pat ball cricket which was a pitiful sight to watch.

Late assault

There was a late assault from Mathews and Jeevan Mendis 26 who put on 79 in 76 deliveries. But the pressure was too much and once they departed, it was all over bar the shouting.

Left arm spinner Xavier Doherty put the Aussies on winning street with three wickets from which point they strangled the Lankan batsmen. Dohery varied his deliveries cleverly to baffle the batsmen. He finished with 3 for 21, while Moises Henriques 3 for 32, Mitchell Johnson 2 for 45 and Clint McKay 2 for 51 chipped in with wickets. Left hander Philip Hughes batted like a champion to post a century in 154 balls with 13 fours and a six to help build a challenging score. He started off patiently, and once he got his eye in played some stunning strokes.

His unbeaten knock was the rock on which the Australian innings was built. Labelled a Test player, but pushed into the one day game, he blasted a three figure score, and although failing in three games, the selectors kept faith in him and he delivered.

Before the game the sad news was that Australiaís regular skipper and big scoring batsman Michel Clarke had failed a fitness test on his twisted ankle, he sustained on the eve of the match and that George Bailey would sport the captainís band.

Of spinning all rounder Glenn Maxwell was given a game. Clarkeís absence was going to weaken the home teamís batting considerably. Sri Lanka went in with the same warriors who did duty for them in Sydney.

This time round the coin turned in favour of Mahela Jayawardene and he asked the Australians to bat.

Thus the Australians were batting first for the fifth time in the series.

Courage to be different

Jayawardene who showed that he has the courage to be different, by not only by asking the Australians to bat first, also dared and gave the new ball to part time off spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan.

This game was crucial to both teams. A win for Sri Lanka will give them the series 3-1 which would be some consolation after being thrashed in the Test series and if Australia were to triumph, it would help them to square the series and save face.

At one stage the Sri Lankans had the Australians on 2 for 37 with the wickets of David Warner bowled by Dilshan for 10 at 31 and six runs later Mathew Wade who opened the innings for 23 LBW to Nuwan Kulesekera.

Good partnerships

Then partnerships of 60 for the third wicket between Hughes and George Bailey and 98 for the 4th wicket between Hughes and David Hussey helped the home team recover.

Bailey made 17 and Hussey 34. Glenn Maxwell went for 9 at 218 and then Moises Henriques not out 9 and Hughes unbeaten on 138 added 23 for the 5th wicket to take Australia to a formidable 247 for 5 setting Sri Lanka 248 for victory.

The Australian score was built around a grand century from left hander Philip Hughes. After a debut century in Melbourne in the first game, Hughes was a failure in the next three games.

But in this game he came back to form and played some elegant cuts, drives and lofted shots in racing to a grand century.

Had it not been for this innings from Hughes the Australians would have been in trouble.

The Sri Lankan bowlers could not find any seam and swing movement and were not dangerous like they did in Brisbane and Sydney. Kulasekera and Malinga bowled great heartedly but could not meet with much success.

Kulasekera had 1 for 57, Dilshan 1 for 25, Malinga 1 for 49 and Thisara Peretra 1 for 39.

The fielding did not give much away except for a dropped catch by Jayewardene that did not prove costly.

Bellerive Oval, Hobart, Wednesday

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