McKay's high five clinches series for Australia
An all-round effort from Clint McKay broke Sri Lanka’s hope of clinching the Commonwealth Bank Series in Adelaide, today. With the finals locked at one a piece, Australia pulled off a slender 16-run win over Sri Lanka in the deciding match. Defending a modest total of 231, Australia bowled out Sri Lanka for 215 on a track that was slow and stayed low .
After being bowled out for 231, Brett Lee and Clint McKay reduced the Sri Lankans to 53/4 after the openers threatened to run away with the game. Taking a cue from the Sri Lankans, Shane Watson threw the new ball to Xavier Doherty. Tilakratne Dilshan (8) and Mahela Jayawaedene(15) jumped on to a wayward Doherty and added 26 in the opening two overs before Dilshan got a leading edge off Lee and was caught by David Hussey.
Kumara Sangakkara (19), again looked in sparkling touch and raced to 19 from eight balls when Lee produced an edge that was well held by Watson at slip. The in form Dinesh Chandimal (5) was trapped in front by Clint McKay, who then cleaned up Mahela Jayawardene too.
The Sri Lankan chase was steadied by a 60 – run stand between Lahiru Thirimanne (30) and Upul Tharanga (71) but the scoreboard pressure kept mounting as shot making became increasingly difficult on a tired wicket. After Shane Watson broke through by picking up Thirimanne, the Sri Lankan chase hit a downward vortex.
Upul Tharanga, playing in the middle order, tried his best to keep his side afloat by hitting his second consecutive fifty but a miserly Watson and a fifer from McKay made sure that he didn’t get much support from the lower order.
Apart from McKay, Lee picked up three wickets while Nathan Lyon and Daniel Christian bowled sensibly to seal the match and series for the hosts.
Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to chase on a wicket that looked worn out after the actions of the second finals. The inclusion of two spinners in the Australian outfit signaled that the wicket would become slower as the game progressed.
As he had done in the earlier match, Tillakaratne Dilshan took the new ball and bowled his overs with impeccable length and direction. He hardly gave the batsmen width and did not let the Aussie openers get away. The Aussie openers David Warner (48) and Matthew Wade (49) though played sensibly and gave their side a solid opening stand of 75 runs. The strong start, however, fizzled out thanks to a Sri Lankan comeback through some impressive fielding and some classical left arm spin from Rangana Herath.
After Warner fell to Farveez Maharoof, the stand- in captain Shane Watson(19) looked set for a big innings but he threw it away to a brilliant outfield catch from Herath. The left arm spinner then nipped out a physically struggling Wade and Peter Forrest (3). Wade was caught behind while Forrest was castled by a ball that gripped and turned.
The subsequent dismissals of the Hussey brothers and Daniel Christian put Sri Lanka in a position of control. With 7/177, Sri Lanka looked well on course to bowl out the hosts for below 200 but a late order revival from McKay (28) and Brett Lee(32) added 40 to swell up the total to a respectable 231.
Rangana Herath bowled an incisive spell of 3-36 aptly helped by Farveez Maharoof ,who also picked up three scalps, while Nuwan Kulasekara contributed with a tidy spell of controlled swing bowling.
Australia will be mighty pleased with the win today as they were forced into two changes, with the captain Michael Clarke dropping out due to a serious hamstring strain, and paceman James Pattinson missing out due to injury too. Australia’s fielding and bowling effort was its best in this crucial fixture and the Aussies would take heart from the fact that they beat both the World Champions and the runners up of the 50-over format to clinch a very enjoyable series.