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Lankan Lions go past the Aussies to seal final berth

857   //    02 Mar 2012, 18:02 IST

A spirited Sri Lanka held their nerves in the final over to secure a berth in the Finals of the Commonwealth Bank Series. Sri Lanka pulled off a nine run victory over Australia, in a must win game, to oust India from the Triangular.

Australia were bowled out in the final over of the game by an inspired Sri Lankan team for 229 chasing a modest 238 to win. Australia suffered a top order collapse and it was only David Hussey and stand in captain Shane Watson who provided some resistance. Australia got off to a bad start losing their top order  for 26 runs. David Warner (6) and Peter Forrest (2) fell to Lasith Malinga while Matthew Wade (9) was caught leg before by Nuwan Kulasekara.

Australia’s stand in captain Shane Watson got together with Mike Hussey to restructure the innings and added 87 runs for the 4th wicket. Sri Lanka, however, kept the pressure on with some fine bowling and athletic fielding. The partnership was broken by the part timer Lahiru Thirimanne when he had Mike Hussey caught behind by Kumara Sangakkara for 29.

Watson(65) too departed soon after, thanks to a Malinga toe-crusher. The innings from the Autralia skipper was a welcome back to form after his injury ridden summer and he looked his usual self taking advantage of whenever the bowlers erred in line.

After the departure of Watson, only David Hussey stood in the way of Sri Lanka. David Hussey went about picking up the singles and putting away bad balls whenever  he got one. His run a ball 74 contained four boundaries and a huge six that he spanked over wide mid wicket off Rangana Herath.

Sri Lanka kept chipping away at the wickets and never let the game go beyond their control. They were sharp on the field and their bowlers stuck to a good line. Lasith Malinga, came into his own after the “Hobart Horror”, and picked up four wickets for 49 runs. His new ball partner Kulasekara picked up two while Senanayake, Thirimanne and Herath picked up one a piece.

Earlier, Daniel Christian picked up an ODI hat-trick since Brett Lee as Sri Lanka struggled to 238 at the MCG. After winning the toss and opting to bat, Sri Lanka failed to put on a good show despite half-centuries from Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal.

Sri Lanka lost their openers cheaply but was revived by a 123 run stand from Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal. Sangakkara followed up his hundred against India with a classy 64 while Chandimal notched up yet another impressive 75 to hoist Sri Lanka to a respectable total.

Sangakkara stayed put to the crease while Chandimal counter attacked the Australians. Lahiru Thirimanne (51) too, played a descent hand to take the Lankans to a fighting total.

Sri Lanka’s revival was thawed by Daniel Christian who picked up a five wicket haul including a hat-trick and  a four wicket spell from James Pattinson. Christian became the fourth Australia player to take on ODI hat-trick after Bruce Reid, Anthony Stuart and Brett Lee, and the first since Lee achieved the feat in the World Cup against Kenya in Durban in March 2003.

The Islanders now take on the Aussies on the first of the best of three finals at Brisbane at Brisbane on March 4 while India, finally, end a forgettable tour Down Under!

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