Sri Lanka staged an incredible comeback in their innings to win the first ODI match against Australia. It looked like the visitors would be bundled out for less than 100 runs, when latter order batsmen Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga stepped up to the plate to take their side home with one wicket and over 5 overs to spare.
Sri Lanka got off to a poor start, losing both openers cheaply. One then thought Sangakarra and Jayawardane would put on a match-winning partnership, but Doherty nipped their plans in the bud. The Tasmanian trapped Jayawardane plumb in front for just 19. His dismissal triggered off a series of low-score departures, starting with Chamara Silva for four, then Sangakarra and Thisara Silva for a duck.
The all-rounder Angelo Mathews held fort for a while, but wickets continued tumbling around him as Doherty returned for another destructive spell and Johnson pitched in with a wicket. Meanwhile, a sharp bit of fielding from substitute Mitchell Starc at extra cover, got rid of Randiv.
With the score reading 107 for 8, Malinga joined forces with Mathews for a last stand. The two got into double figures and pressed on. Suddenly the tables had turned on the Aussies who were just dumb spectators to the class and brilliance of the duo. The two put on 132 runs for the ninth wicket, hitting 12 fours and 3 sixes between them. Malinga eventually got out for 56 off 48 balls and it was left to Muralitharan to hit the winning runs.
Earlier in the day, Australia appeared to be struggling against the pace of Thisara Perera who took a five wicket haul. After Malinga dismissed opener Shane Watson for a paltry 10, it was Perera's turn to wreak havoc. The speedster got rid of a threatening Clarke caught behind and then sent back Michael Hussey and Cameron White in consecutive balls. Hussey tried to hold the innings together with the few remaining batsmen, but they caved in to some tight bowling from Kulsekara and Randiv, while Perera returned to remove Hastings in the last over. At the end of the innings, Hussey remained not out on 71.
It was an auspicious debut for Xavier Doherty for even though his side ended up losers on the day, the youngster picked up four wickets. But the Man of the Match rightly went to Angelo Mathews for a hard-fought and richly-deserved 77 off 82 balls. Sri Lanka now take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series with the next match to be played on Nov 5th at Sydney.