Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 5th day December 18, 2012

Starc and Siddle deliver victory to Australia


Australia 5 for 450 dec and 278 beat Sri Lanka 336 and 255 (Sangakkara 63, Samaraweera 49, Starc 5-63, Siddle 4-50) by 137 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

At last, Michael Clarke must have thought. At last Australia have tasted victory this summer. It took until the fourth Test of their home campaign, and into the final hour at that, but Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle delivered a 137-run win for Clarke and their team-mates as Sri Lanka's tail-enders narrowly failed to hold on for a draw at Bellerive Oval. Despite the best efforts of Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera in particular, Sri Lanka will walk out on Boxing Day at the MCG 1-0 down.

As the gloom began to close in, Australia entered the final hour needing two more wickets; Sri Lanka's victory target of 393 had become irrelevant during the morning. Starc delivered precisely what his captain required. All the Twenty20 cricket he has played over the past year began to pay off. He viewed the task as similar to bowling at the death in the short format, sending in yorkers and mixing it up with the occasional shorter delivery. And unlike in T20, he had the luxury of catching men everywhere.

After a few yorkers narrowly missed the stumps, or hit the pads on their way down the leg side, Starc finally directed one that bowled Rangana Herath to leave Sri Lanka at 9 for 250. In his next over, Starc banged one in shorter and Shaminda Eranga couldn't work out how to play it, in the end offering a fend of sorts that was edged through to Matthew Wade. Starc had 5 for 63. Sri Lanka were out for 255. And Australia had won the fourth Test of their home season, the first time since 2001-02 it had taken them so long to register a win.

There was a sense of inevitability about the victory, at least, after Samaraweera and Sangakkara had departed. Unlike in the Adelaide Test last month, where the South Africans held off Australia's bowlers to survive for a draw, this time the pitch was tougher for batting, the weather was much cooler and allowed the bowlers some respite, and importantly, it wasn't all left to Siddle. It was him who provided the spark, though.

Siddle was named Man of the Match for his nine-wicket game, and most importantly for the Australians he provided the three key breakthroughs on the final day. First there was Mahela Jayawardene, who before lunch edged a ball that moved away from the bat and was caught at slip for 19. Then it was the big one - Sangakkara lbw for 63. It was a perfect delivery, angling across the left-hander, pitching in line and straightening. A hopeful review did not save the batsman.

Australia were pleased to have a review go their way after they had both Sangakkara and Samaraweera given out lbw earlier in the day only to have the decisions overturned. On 54, Sangakkara had been reprieved when he tried to pull a Shane Watson delivery that kept low and after being given out lbw, he asked for a review of Nigel Llong's decision. The replays showed Watson, who was coming around the wicket, had struck Sangakkara just outside the line of off stump.

Samaraweera had been on 18 when he was given lbw to Siddle, but replays showed Llong had erred again, for the ball had clearly struck the batsman outside the line of off stump while playing a shot. Samaraweera provided plenty of fight after that, surviving until after tea, when Siddle jagged a ball back to have him lbw for 49. Siddle had already had Angelo Mathews caught behind for 19, and Australia were into the tail.

Then it was all Starc. Supported by a predatory field that featured every player in the normal television frame - on several occasions Australia had no fielder who could not have been called a catcher - Starc picked up the key wicket of Prasanna Jayawardene, the last of the recognised batsmen. Bowling around the wicket, Starc forced Jayawardene to play a ball that bounced more than he expected, and he was taken at slip for 21.

Starc then went back over the wicket and angled a ball across Nuwan Kulasekara, who edged behind for 9, and Australia could sniff victory. It was a fine effort from Starc and Siddle after Sri Lanka had been only three wickets down at lunch and four wickets down at tea.

Sangakkara had spent most of the first half of the day frustrating the Australians just as he had done at the same ground five years ago. He occupied the crease for 226 balls in a cautious innings that had included just six boundaries. He brought up his half-century from his 165th ball with a pull to the midwicket boundary off a generous full toss from David Warner.

Samaraweera was also watchful, although he showed a willingness to mix things up when he advanced to Nathan Lyon and lofted a boundary to long-on. He was the main problem for the Australians after Sangakkara departed, and on a day when rain had also frustrated Australia, Clarke was so desperate for a breakthrough that he asked the wicketkeeper Wade to bowl the final over before tea.

It was a remarkable move given that Wade had never before bowled a delivery in his 60-match first-class career. His right-arm medium pacers came through sharper than expected - a couple of balls clocked 132kph - but he was unable to force a mistake from Samaraweera.

Fortunately for Australia, the strike bowlers did the job in the final session. Sri Lanka's fight was admirable, but on a wearing pitch their task was simply too great.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Janaka on December 20, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    Why not give a chance to Upul Tharanga? I really don't understand.

  • Sugath on December 20, 2012, 4:14 GMT

    Hi Guys, take the case of Mendis, was fastest to 50 wickets in test matches, but then batters found way to read him and he became less effective. He was out for a while and he returned, and now he is even better than first time, Aussies without Clarke will be cannon fodder for Mendis and Dhananjaya who is a wiz kid. All that can happen if the selectors decide before it is too late. Agreed, the media, even spectators and some politicians targeted Murali. But he is a true gentleman and has no remorse and has forgiven those uneducated people.

  • Andrew on December 20, 2012, 2:41 GMT

    @ Sugath on (December 19 2012, 15:41 PM GMT) - there is a reason why your "champs" are not currently in the Test squad - they aren't good enuff - YET! What you are banging on about would be like me saying, "If Oz played Kane Richardson & Gannon, we'd of won by an innings!" They are well down the list of pacers we have at the moment, & it is totally impossible to verify whether what I said is true or not!

  • Jon on December 19, 2012, 15:47 GMT

    @sugath- the prime reason Murali failed in Australia was fear, and many others for that matter. In every series against the great Oz side the questions in the media were always targetted at one man, mainly the best player in the opposition. Can Murali stop Hayden, Can Sachin defy Australia?, Can Pollock bowl the Aussies out? Will Harmison bounce out Ricky?. Genrally this is how the media in the 00's worked. Man for man Aus were always superior and the focus tended to be on one individual in the opposition ranks and whether they were able to bear the burden. Some players managed the pressure well, Sachin, Vaughan, Sehwag whereas others crumbled under it (Kallis, Murali, Harmison). I think every time Murali stepped onto the field he was scared of Australia. He was good enough but he let the pressure of the media, fans etc to get to him. I felt in the 00's Kallis never delivered against the great Aussie side. It's why I never consider him in the bracket of Sobers, Lara or Sachin.

  • Sugath on December 19, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Guys, fear psychosis, afraid that Mendis and Dhananjaya will runs Aussies. Now that Clarke is doubtful for the Melbourne Test the other batters are sitting ducks for the likes of Mendis & Dhananjaya, and none of them can compare to Gilly, Langer, Dean Martin and Waugh Brothers and Hayden

  • Anthony on December 19, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    For those that think Mendis is the answer, go take a look at Narine's figures in the tests he just played in Bangladesh. Meety has it right, T20 and tests are totally different. In one you have to attack, the other you can just wait them out.

  • Andrew on December 19, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    @Sugath on (December 19 2012, 09:21 AM GMT) - mate there is a difference to the way a batsmen plays spin in T20s/ODIs versus Tests. Oz may struggle against Mendis in short forms, but he will be less effective than Herath in Tests.

  • Andrew on December 19, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    @Sugath on (December 19 2012, 07:43 AM GMT) - sorry mate - I totally disagree with your reasons as to why Murali did not have a good record in Oz. The fact is Oz batsmen play off spin quite well. Once Oz learned how a Doosra is best bowled (lines & lengths) they combatted it & have historically showed disdain for off spin bowling. To suggest altered pitches to combat him shows a lcak of knowledge of Oz conditions. Just because Murali had a poor average in Oz - does not mean he was a poor spinner, IMO Warney was great even though his stats in India were poor. A spinner to succeed against good opposition needs to have decent pacers, & for most of Murali's career he had only Vaas.

  • Sugath on December 19, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    Guys, I agree and agree to disagree. Sure Gilly and Ponting and the lot were great, but this lot barring Clarke will not know what to do if Mendis and Dhananjaya were to play in Melbourne. They will be all at sea against these too because they are not orthodox. One more thing I noted, Sri Lanka first match in Canberra in roasting weather and in Hobart it was freezing. Come Melbourne it will be over 86 F and like back home ideal conditions for two inspirational lads. Hope the SLC selectors take notice and do something or else it could well be 2-0.

  • Graham on December 19, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    Sugath I have watched a lot of cricket in AUstralia and the decks have never been changed for Murali, our batsman dont fear Murali on Australian decks. Also look at the records of Swann, Panesar, Ajmal, Vettori and many others and check there records on Australian soil. I know you dont have the medium pace options but spin in Australia is not the answer. You need one to keep it tight and to get wickets when batsman are being aggressive.

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