Melbourne, Mar 2: Sri Lanka held their nerve to edge Australia by nine runs to enter the tri-series finals and knock India out of the competition here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday.
[Scorecard: Australia vs Sri Lanka, March 2, MCG]
It was a thrilling encounter in Melbourne where David Hussey carried Australian hopes till the last over before he was dismissed on the first ball of the final over by Nuwan Kulasekara. Australia were all out for 229 in 49.1 overs in reply to Sri Lanka's 239 all out in 50 overs.
Australia, with 19 points and Sri Lanka, also with 19, will contest the best-of-three finals starting from Sunday in Brisbane. India, with 15 points will go home empty-handed having lost the Test series 0-4 and failing to qualify for the finals here.
Needing 10 runs off the final over, David Hussey (74) attempted to smash the first ball into the stands but only managed to give a catch to Tillakaratne Dilshan at long-off who collected the catch with ease.
All hopes seemed lost for Australia when it was 187/8 in 42.5 overs. But, David Hussey did not give up the fight and kept them in the hunt in the company of Xavier Doherty (7). The duo put on 39 runs for the ninth wicket before Doherty was deceived by a Lasith Malinga slower ball in the 49th over.
Malinga took four wickets for 49 in 10 overs to star in this narrow victory while Kulasekara chipped in with two wickets for 38 in 9.1 overs. It was a fine effort by Sri Lanka after losing two of their regular bowlers, Angelo Mathews (calf injury) and Thisara Perera (side strain) to injuries during the Australian innings.
Chasing a modest target, Australia were pegged back initially by Sri Lankan fast bowlers. The hosts were reduced to 26/3 in five overs. After this, captain Shane Watson (65) and Michael Hussey (29) associated to rebuild the innings. But Sri Lanka kept taking wickets at regular intervals and it was left to David Hussey in the end to anchor the chase. But he could win it for the hosts, who had already made it to the finals.
Sri Lankan Innings Report
Daniel Christian took five wickets including a hat-trick as Australia restricted Sri Lanka to 238 all out in 50 overs in their last league match of the tri-series here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday.
Sri Lanka were on course to post a score in excess of 260, but in a dramatic collapse, triggered by Christian, the Islanders ended up with 238. They lost their last six wickets for 52 runs. Christian took all his five wickets in his final five-over spell which read 5-0-11-5.
When Chandimal was dismissed for 75, the score was 186/4 in 38.5 overs. His departure signalled Australia's outstanding rally.
Christian dismissed Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake and Nuwan Kulasekara in successive deliveries in the 44th over. He took three wickets in the third, fourht and fifth deliveries of the over. The right-handed bowler completed his maiden ODI five-wicket haul when he bowled Lasith Malinga in the last ball of the innings.
The sequence of dismissals for Christian's hat-trick started with a fine catch at the boundary by Michael Hussey. As Perera swung the ball towards deep midwicket, M Hussey completed the catch and in the process was about to cross the boundary. He was quick to realise it and threw the ball up and came back into field of play to complete the catch. Senanayake was the next man to go, LBW. However, the third victim of Christian, Kulasekara should consider himself unlucky as the HawEye indicated that the ball would have missed legstump.
Australian umpire Rod Tucker thought otherwise and sent Kulasekara back.
James Pattinson, who returned to the team from an injury, was equally impressive with four wickets. Pattinson finished with 4/51 in 10 overs.
When Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal raised a century partnership, Sri Lanka were cruising towards a big target. But everythig changed in the last 10 overs of the game.
There were three half centuries for Sri Lanka. Sangakkara (64), Chandimal (75) and Lahiru Thirimanne (51).
Earlier, Australia got a perfect start as they dismissed Sri Lankan openers within the first 5 overs. James Pattinson dismissed the centurion of the previous game Tillakaratne Dilshan for 9, while David Hussey's direct hit at the bowler's end sent Mahela Jayawardene (5) back to the pavilion.
After hesitating for a moment Jayawardene responded to Dilshan's call to go for a single, but David Hussey was fast enough to collect the ball and throw it to the bowler's end.
The final league match of the tri-series gets under way as Jayawardene calls it right to bat first in the tri-series ODI. With Sri Lanka and India gaining equal points, Dhoni's men would hope for an Australian victory to qualify for the finals.
Shane Watson joined Mahela Jayawardene at the toss, which meant Michael Clarke was rested and has not yet recovered from back strain. Sri Lanka have picked two spinners. Injured Farveez Maharoof is replaced by offspinner Sachithra Senanayake.
Australia have rested Brett Lee, who is suffering from a broken toe. Pace sensation James Pattinson, back from injury as he replaces the pace spearhead in the playing XI.
Australia: Shane Watson (captain), David Warner, Peter Forrest, Daniel Christian, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara.