All those expecting a fighting and enthralling contest between Australia and Sri Lanka would have been disappointed as the match went about in predicted lines and ended up being a one-sided encounter- one that belonged to Australia!
Sri Lanka batting first put themselves under pressure by losing three quick wickets at their innings. Opener Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga departed early, with Jayasuriya making 12 while Tharanga contributing just 6 runs. To follow was more turmoil as the Australians made further inroads by dismissing Sangakarra, a mainstay of the Sri Lankan innings, for a blob!
Then it was up to Captain Jayawardene and Chamara Silva to string a partnership and take their team to a comfortable position. Both the batsmen did just that by scoring at a healthy rate of almost five runs per over. Jaywardene was a little cautious to start but then emerged as the aggressor among the two as he scored freely in boundaries. Chamara Silva paid the anchor role as he scored his 64 runs off 107 deliveries, while Jayawardene scored 72 in 88 deliveries.
It was a perfect launchpad for the team to score a 300+ total, but panic set in, and Australians resurfaced in the game. Both Silva and Jayawardene were out quickly. The Aussies tightened the noose around the Lankans by picking up Dilshan and Arnold’s wickets, thereby ensuring that the team was denied the acceleration is required to set a big total. In the end, it was Maharoof and Bandara’s knocks that saw the team reach 226 in their 50 overs.
Tait, who was plundered in the first half of his bowling spell, came back strongly by picking up Dilshan and Arnold’s wickets. On the other hand, Bracken put in a disciplined effort and was rewarded with 4 wickets, whereas McGrath and Hogg got two apiece.
The Australians, when they came to chase, never looked under pressure throughout the entire innings. Both Gilchrist and Hayden got good starts for their sides, with Hayden scoring 41 from just 30 deliveries! Ponting then finished the run chase in partnerships with Clarke and Symonds. Clarke scored 23, while Symonds, with his brute hitting, scored 63. His knock had 5 boundaries and two towering sixes in it!
Clinical is the word that could best describe the Aussie effort, who went about the game in a very professional and calm manner. Having said that, Sri Lanka dearly missed the likes of Muralitharan and ‘viper’ Malinga, both of whom were not a match fit for yesterday’s game!