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Openers bring Sri Lanka back on level terms

832   //    06 Mar 2012, 17:44 IST

When the Indian fans are calling for the heads of the senior players, two of Sri Lanka’s senior statesmen made light work of the Aussies at Adelaide, today.

An explosive hundred from Tillakaratne Dilshan helped Sri Lanka cruise past Australia to secure an eight wicket win to level the Finals of the Commonwealth Bank Series at one all.

Chasing 272 to win, an opening partnership of 179  put Sri Lanka on course to force a third final in Adelaide. The Lankan openers have been the most impressive throughtout the tournament and today they sealed the game for them. Dilshan notched up his 12th ODI hundred while Jayawardene scored a breezy 80 that was classy and easy on the eye.

The Lankan pair was aptly helped by some wayward Aussie bowling that was generous with the extras as well. Jayawardene and Dilshan took full toll of it and galloped to 179  in 27 overs. Dilshan(106) crashed the boundaries with his powerful pulls and cuts while Jayawardene teased the fielders with his well timed drives down the ground.

The partnership, however, should have ended had Clint McKay not over stepped when his out swinger found the edge of Jayawardene’s bat. Dilshan too was hit on the helmet when he tired his famous “Dil-Scoop”.

The pair frustrated the Aussies, who looked jittery on the field, by milking the singles and hitting  the boundaries whenever the bowlers erred in line.

Jayawardene’s class act was cut short by James Pattinson with a delivery that nipped in from a good length and caught him in front of the stumps. The joy was short lived as Kumara Sanggakara settled down quickly and added another 55 with Dilshan. Dilshan’s 119 ball stay was finally ended when he was caught at deep mid wicket by Mike Hussey off  Brett Lee.

Kumara Sanggakara(51) and Dinesh Chandimal (17) finished off the job by adding 44 runs in an unbeaten partnership. The Australians looked ordinary on the field and the bowling was all over the place even though the pitch had enough for the bowlers to exploit.

Earlier, Australia posted 271/6 after winning the toss. Two contrasting hundreds from David Warner and captain Michael Clarke pulled Australia out of a hole after losing Matthew Wade (14) and Shane Watson (15) cheaply.

After a dominating 163 at Gabba, David Warner (100) scored his second ODI ton but in a more measured way. Hampered by a groin injury, he was circumspect and looked to anchor the innings.

Michael Clarke on the other hand was at his explosive best, notching up a 117 off just 91 deliveries. The captain plundered the boundaries with five fours and four sixes. Clarke was aptly helped by some poor Sri Lankan fielding that dropped a number of catches. Clarke and Warner picked off the singles but Clarke exploded in a Maharoof over where he conceded 24 runs. The over saw more drama as a delayed no-ball call infuriated the Sri Lanka Captain and he debated the point angrily with both umpires after Maharoof had strayed above waist height with a full toss.

Sri Lanka, however, pulled back the Australian total to below 300 after a late burst from Lasith Malinga, who plucked out Warner and the Hussey brothers. Clarke too, struggling with a bad hamstring, failed to give the final impetus to the Australian innings.

The Aussies looked flat and jaded and will not be happy with their below par effort in this encounter. On the other hand,  a close game at Brisbane and a win here at Adelaide will certainly give Sri Lanka the edge as they head into the third final on March 8 at the same venue.

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