Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne

Sangakkara savours stunning comeback

Brydon Coverdale at the MCG

November 3, 2010

Comments: 49 | Text size: A | A

Angelo Mathews launches one down the ground, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne, November 3, 2010
Angelo Mathews showed immense maturity to turn certain defeat into an incredible victory © Getty Images
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Kumar Sangakkara is not a man to indulge in hyperbole, but even he rated Sri Lanka's miraculous comeback win at the MCG as one of the two best victories in his 277-game career. Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga somehow rescued their side from 8 for 107 chasing 240, and in the process rewrote a ninth-wicket partnership record that had stood since the 1983 World Cup.

That they achieved the feat against the No. 1-ranked side, and in Australia, was even more impressive. After the match, Sangakkara was reluctant to put the triumph categorically at the top of the team's achievements, but he was full of praise for the way Mathews and Malinga resurrected what looked like becoming a miserable failure.

"It's the second-most remarkable, I think, or at least one of two, because we were five wickets down for six runs against Bangladesh in a final and managed to get home in that with Murali hitting 33 off 15. But Bangladesh is one thing and the Australians are another, so this is incredible.

"There's nothing much you can think [at 8 for 107] - you just hope. And the way Angelo batted, I thought he showed immense maturity. He's coming off a tough couple of months with the bat, he's had an injury so he can't bowl, but I think he just repaid our trust many times over with the way he batted. And Lasith Malinga did the hard yards in the bowling part and then managed to go out there and again contribute fantastically to the win."

Australia looked headed for certain victory when the debutant Xavier Doherty ran through the top order and by the time Malinga joined Mathews, a home win seemed only moments away. Immediately, they took the batting Powerplay, hoping to manufacture something out of nothing, and the gamble quickly began to pay off.

They picked off 45 runs in during the fielding restrictions and gradually the momentum shifted. Malinga used his brute force to plant a few sixes into the stands and sow some doubts in the mind of Michael Clarke, while Mathews worked the ball around at the other end, conscious that time was not Sri Lanka's enemy. Slowly they started to think of victory, which had not been on their agenda when the partnership began.

"We never thought of winning the game from there," Mathews said. "We just wanted to bat on and see how we go. We just took the Powerplay and it worked for us, we got some runs and the game got closer. When we got close to 200 we thought that we could do it, because we had a big partnership and Lasith was batting extremely well, he was hitting big sixes and it was so easy for me to knock it around and play freely."

It looked easy, too. Neither man gave a genuine chance until the scores were already tied, when Malinga was run out attempting a winning single. It prompted groans from the 19,000-strong crowd, which was dominated by Sri Lankan fans, while many of the Australians who would normally turn up stayed away, having already had a day off work for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup public holiday.

"Melbourne is the best place for us to come and play, it's like playing at home," Sangakkara said. "Today I think there were many more Sri Lankans than Australians to watch the game, so it's incredible to play here. Sydney is also great. Australia has been a great place to come to, but we haven't won enough here, so it's good to get off to a win."

However, as wondrous as the one-wicket victory was for the visitors, Sangakkara knows that much work remains if Sri Lanka are to win a series in Australia for the first time. They head to Sydney with an opportunity to secure the series on Friday, but barely half an hour after the players streamed on to the field to celebrate the victory, Sangakkara was already warning his men that they had to lift their game.

"This is an incredible but very lucky win," he said. "I thought we fielded quite poorly today. We bowled very well to restrict them, I though the Powerplay overs were fantastic. Thisara Perera again, he seems to be able to pick up five-fors and wickets in one-dayers when you don't think that he can. We made some very poor decisions in our batting especially, when Doherty came on, and we made it really hard for ourselves. There are a lot of things to work on."

The batting of Mathews and Malinga is not one of them.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 10, 2010, 7:51 GMT)

@ popcorn Michal Clerk could not have to do anything other than watching Mathews & Malinga.He tried everything but 2M's unstopable.Michael clerk better captain than Ricky.When Ricky played with SL they won very easily. But under Michael SL loss one match as well.That will show who will more agressive.

Posted by dsenevir on (November 4, 2010, 22:33 GMT)

Wow! What a match! What a finish. Hats off to Angelo and Malinga and rest of the SL team! We are proud of you! World Cup 2011..Here comes the Lions!

Posted by   on (November 4, 2010, 11:49 GMT)

My World cup team for 2011........

1 Mahela, 2 Dishan, 3 Kumar, 4 Chandimal, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Anjelo, 7 Tissara, 8 Suraj, 9 Nuwan, 10 Lasith, 11 Muththayya We need a rock solid batsman, Thilan Samaraweera at 5 so that tail can play around him.

Posted by popcorn on (November 4, 2010, 11:13 GMT)

Michael Clarke is not a ruthless captain - like Allan Border,Mark Taylor,Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting.Even after the 5 over power play, there were plenty of runs to get for the Sri Lankans. Michael Clarke should have crowded the bat,rather than spread his field,asked his bowlers to bowl medium pace stump to stump, and caused the edges and mistakes from Mathews and Malinga.Australia could still have won.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (November 4, 2010, 10:30 GMT)

I have never seen such an opposition suppot crowd in any of ODI before in Australia. Easily over 90% were supporting Lions. I tried to find out Aussie flags. I think about 8 P.M. (SL 107 for 8) I found just 2 Aussie flags. There were thousands Lion flags. I can say the same for the Twenty20 at Blacktown olympic park. I hardly saw any Aussi flags. Even during the rain, Sri Lankans started dancing and singing under the familian.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (November 4, 2010, 10:20 GMT)

My Team 1 Mahela, 2 Dishan, 3 Kumar, 4 Chandimal, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Anjelo, 7 Tissara, 8 Suraj, 9 Nuwan, 10 Lasith, 11 Muththayya We need a rock solid batsman, Thilan Samaraweera at 5 so that tail can play around him.

Posted by   on (November 4, 2010, 8:44 GMT)

"It's the second-most remarkable, I think, or at least one of two, because we were five wickets down for six runs against Bangladesh in a final and managed to get home in that with Murali hitting 33 off 15. But Bangladesh is one thing and the Australians are another, so this is incredible. "

IS THIS GUY A NUT-JOB ??? HE RATES A MATCH AGAINST BANGLADESH OVER THIS? HOLY COW WOULD SOMEONE BASH UP HIS BRAINS FOR ME!!! This was in Australia against Australia and from 106-8 and he compares this with some match against Bangladesh! Probably SL's best game ever! Only second to their World Cup triumph in 1996!

Posted by Biggus on (November 4, 2010, 7:42 GMT)

I don't think Australians think one day cricket is dying. I do think however that many of us are ambivalent towards the T20 format. To me personally T20 is to test cricket as the comics in the daily paper are to 'War and Peace', but we do like the 50 over a side game. Incidentally, well done Sri Lanka- a victory full of character and promise, despite the middle order collapse. Keep playing like that and you may enter the World Cup as one of the favourites. Two World Cups would look pretty good in the trophy cabinet eh?

Posted by PATHANIAS on (November 4, 2010, 6:25 GMT)

Boy that was some batting by Malinga. I think the decision to take batting powerplay was incredible and it payed off. Hats Off lions

Posted by   on (November 4, 2010, 6:03 GMT)

Whoever said ODI cricket is dying is STUPID, its still the most exciting version of the Game !!

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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