Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney, 4th day January 6, 2013

Retiring Hussey steers Australia to victory


Australia 9 for 432 dec and 5 for 141 (Cowan 36, Herath 3-45) beat Sri Lanka 294 and 278 (Karunaratne 85, Chandimal 62*, Jayawardene 60, Johnson 3-34, Bird 3-76) by 5 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Michael Hussey is one of cricket's finest finishers, so it was only fitting that he ended his international career by steering Australia to victory and a series clean-sweep over Sri Lanka. Despite the best efforts of his partner Mitchell Johnson to dead-bat the ball with one run needed, Hussey was not able to hit the winning run, instead sprinting through for a single as the ball ran off Johnson's thick edge and away to point off Rangana Herath.

To Hussey, it barely mattered. The win - the 48th of his Test career - was what meant everything. And in a small chase of 141, he had done an important job of guiding Australia through some late jitters to complete a five-wicket victory. He finished unbeaten on 27 and ended his Test career with 6235 runs at an average of 51.52. He walked off to lead Australia in the team song one last time before he hands the job over to Nathan Lyon.

Of course, the win was not all about Hussey. Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes and Michael Clarke all played important parts in edging Australia closer to their goal. For the second time since Clarke took over the captaincy Australia completed a clean-sweep of an opponent - the first was last summer against India - and it was a positive end to a summer that began with two draws and a loss to South Africa.

As the target was reduced with every gap pierced by Cowan and Clarke, the crowd at the SCG experienced the unusual feeling of wanting to see an Australian wicket fall. Hussey has been a favourite of the Australian fans over his seven years in the Test team and his absence from the one-day international squad announced earlier in the day meant this was certain to be his final match for Australia.

With 37 runs still required, the moment arrived. Clarke prodded forward to Tillakaratne Dilshan's offspin and lobbed a catch to short leg, and his home crowd cheered. This was no insult to Clarke, but a recognition of everything Hussey has done for Australia since his Test debut at the age of 30, and for one last time his team needed him. He walked to the crease to a standing ovation and settled down to business.

After a nervous leading edge first ball, he was off the mark from his second delivery with a cover-drive for two, and even managed to get a reverse-swept boundary in there as well. The small chase of 141 could have been tricky on a fourth-day SCG pitch, especially when Australia lost David Warner in the second over for a golden duck when he edged to Mahela Jayawardene at slip off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal.

But his opening partner Cowan set himself to guide Australia as close to their goal as possible and although he was in no hurry, he anchored two very important partnerships, a 45-run stand with Hughes and then a 59-run effort with Clarke. Hughes played some impressive strokes in his 34 from 49 balls but was flummoxed by Herath. When Herath trapped Hughes lbw it was a much-deserved wicket, even though the Sri Lankans had called for a review mostly to check on a bat-pad catch.

At 2 for 45, Australia were not yet out of the woods, especially given their decision to play five bowlers in this Test. But Cowan did not lose his cool and gradually eked out the runs, while Clarke was a little more fluent. Their partnership was the one that took Australia from a slight danger zone to a position of comfort and after Clarke fell, Cowan was bitterly disappointed to follow him and miss out on the chance to see the chase home, trapped lbw on 36 by Herath coming around the wicket.

Matthew Wade also lost his wicket when he was bowled attempting a sweep off Herath for 8, but by then Australia needed only another nine runs. The Sri Lankans, who have never won a Test in Australia, were left to wonder what could have been had they just scratched out another 50 runs in their second innings. Truth be told, they had done well to make a game of it after losing a string of wickets on the third afternoon.

Dinesh Chandimal finished unbeaten on 62 and the 41-run stand he put on with Nuwan Pradeep for the final wicket was critical in giving Sri Lanka's bowlers something to defend. Pradeep was dismissed nearly half an hour before lunch for 9, with Sri Lanka's total on 278, and it left Australia's openers a short period to bat before the break which Warner didn't survive.

Every run was important for Sri Lanka as they resumed the morning at 7 for 225. Only ten runs had been added when Herath played on to Jackson Bird while attempting to leave the ball alone, and when Lakmal was bowled for a duck trying a hefty swipe off Johnson it appeared that the innings could be over quickly. But Pradeep offered impressive support for Chandimal, who farmed the strike effectively.

Chandimal immediately lifted his tempo and struck three boundaries off a Bird over and soon had his half-century from 75 balls with another boundary whipped through midwicket off Bird. Pradeep got in on the act with four down the ground but next ball was caught behind off Bird as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 274.

It left Australia needing 141, the kind of target that has proven difficult at times in past years. It's also the sort of target that meant Australia needed not only their openers, but their No.5 as well. And Mr Cricket delivered.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gnanavelu on January 8, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    @sl fans. I see few of you acknowledging the performance of our youngsters. I appreciate your gesture. But i have to tell you that just these 3 matches against a substandard side like sl was an opportunity to test our new comers but cant comment much by these performances in terms of real tough skills inside. Can australia just claim back the world cup after defeating zimbabwe alone? Good to see that certain members who said our young bowling attack was incapable of getting the much talented greatest srilankan batsmen out,are now recognising our men with signs of talent,though not completely proved

  • gnanavelu on January 8, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    @sinhaya and htc_android.Understand one thing clearly.One should accept that thirimane batted fairly in the last match.But what do you want to convey by saying he performed well in 48 hours after landing? You are here on a cricketing forum,do not be so silly. He is a professional cricketer.The conditions in which he played were not very alien to the ones of kandy with temp between 22 to 28 degrees,he could have been tired of travelling which he shouldve be ok with a night's sleep.All professionals ill adapt very soon.Understand these basics. Don be so emotional and comment here. Also know that he is under no pressure of getting axed as every other batsmen of your team failed, he cant be dropped just for failing here. Don talk your theories like he took the responsibility on his shoulder and stuff.He was in no pressure and performed.You must understand that your team had the talent to get innings defeated all times but luckily just achieved it once.

  • gnanavelu on January 8, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    @sinhaya there is a major difference between criticizing your team and accepting criticisms of others.Having criticised your team's weakness by yourselves does not mean that you are open hearted to accept fair criticisms.i just wanna ask all the lankan fans,did you expect to win a test match in australia with a kind of team you have?So obviously you all knew you had nothing to lose.So stop projecting it otherwise.Regarding you concept of cricketing basics, what i meant by nothing to lose was to imply that the series had already lost and with a kind of team you have,even something near a draw could have been great achievement considering the talent and experience of your side.A player who is put to bat in a situation in which the team had already lost the series and with every analyst and basic neutral viewers predicting a whitewash for the team,is for certain a 'no pressure' situation that having been sent to bat on day 1 of test 1. Better you first Get your basics corrected dear.

  • Prashan on January 8, 2013, 13:45 GMT

    @Htc-Android and colombo_SL, a stat I want to post is that since 2009 Summer, all 10 tests played by sub continent teams in Australia have ended as defeats for them. Pakistan 3-0 in 2009-10, India 4-0 in 2011-12 and Sri Lanka 3-0 in 2012-13. It again showed on our part that we have played our worse test cricket against Aussies both home and away in contrast with others. We hope we can improve our home test record against Aussies when they come in July 2016 as per the ICC FTP. Pakistan too in the recent past played their worse test cricket against Aussies losing 13 tests in a row from 1999 to 2010, when it all ended with Pakistan winning in Headingley. NZ ended a hoodoo of not beating Aussies in a test match for 18 years in Nov 2011. So we should target beating Australia like that. But we lack the quality bowlers as of now.

  • Susantha on January 8, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    This Australian team is good side. They have the talent. They have the talent to be no.1 in test cricket. But long way to go. They are still inconsistent unlike their previous teams. They should be given sufficient time settle as a unit. There are some signs about bright future. But have to test in Indian & England conditions. Cowan, Hughes & Wade are good batsmen. But yet to improve like their predecessors. Hope they can do it. It is always nice to see exciting Australian cricket & their atmosphere. Absolutely brilliant. We love the cricketers like Hussey (But not on SHAME Warne. Excellent cricketer. Not a gentleman). This cricket world is so interesting due to teams like Australia.

  • Susantha on January 8, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    @gnanzcupid; I'm not going to argue with you on our young players talents. You have the full freedom to analyse them according to your view. I don't agree with one point of your comment. You said, "Moreover this was a match in which you had nothing to lose, so they dint perform under pressure and had to play for pride but their performance cant be written off". 1. It is true we had nothing to loose, but we had everything to gain. (Maiden victory on Australian soil) 2. Thirimanne had to participate on a single training session. He had no permanent place in test team. Dimuth was also not a permanent player & still fresh. Players feel more pressure when they are trying to cement their position in the team. I think you even don't know that basic. You seems to be a reporter with good written skills but have no experience in a cricket ground. Even Bird was under pressure to cement his position but did it in style. Dimuth/Thiri batted positively like matures. Early to predict;100%.

  • associate cricket fan on January 8, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    @ Sinhaya. I agree with u. Even the Aussie commentators praised some of the shots that dimuth played. As per gnanzcupid our youngster had nothing to lose and they were not under pressure. But he dint notice, We had an embarrassing loss in the previous test and we lost our best batsmen. So there was real need for our team to put up a good show in sydney and our youngsters did well on that. Also dont forget Aussies were playing with 4 pacers. All these are not under pressure situation for him.

  • Prashan on January 8, 2013, 0:38 GMT

    @gnanzcupid, I criticized my team in this thread and other pointing out weaknesses and if you cant see them I cant do anything. Let offs and reprieves are a part of any match. Clarke got a reprieve due to MJ opting not to review his LBW appeal turned down by Dar and even Wade got a reprieve when he was dropped. If you are saying Dimuth did not play confident strokes, my god is there any better way to bring off your fifty other than with a big six? I agree more was needed from them. Both registered their highest test scores. Thirimanne arrived in Sydney barely 48 hours before the match and his 1st innings performance was by all means very good. Chandimal played very well in the 2nd innings, but we needed a Ramdhin like effort (if you recall the Ramdhin Tino Best partnership last year for the 10th wicket) from him for the 10th wicket if we were to have any hopes of winning. Chandimal not playing in the first test too made us pay dearly.

  • gnanavelu on January 7, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    @sinhaya and htc_android.You should understand my comments clearly before making an attempt to counter. Look to my comments on day 1 and 3 play.I said thirimanne and dimuth played well but it was true early to say that they are bright young talents. You must accept both were not playing confident clean strokes all the innings,there were some let offs and deprivals. Too early days.Moreover this was a match in which you had nothing to lose, so they dint perform under pressure and had to play for pride but their performance cant be written off.Have to wait for some more matches to judge them.I don understand why you shy away from criticisms like what @sinhaya is trying to do.i have my own right to express what i feel in this forum.Its upto to you to mind it or not.I think that the pathetic state of cricket in your country outrages most of you and you plainly counter the people who criticise you by speaking ill of their country.Everyone can express,thats what this forum is meant to be.

  • Prashan on January 7, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    @All Sri Lankan fans, the main bottom line of this tour is that when playing Australia you always must play for a win no matter how strong or weak they are. They always play attacking cricket always. In Hobart, we played for a draw when they came for a win. We should have targeted a win in Hobart and then may have been a draw. Another example was in 2011, Aussies came to our shores after the Ashes drubbing and caught us sleeping against them. We though they were pushovers and nearly lost the tests 2-0 (rain saved us in Pallekelle). SSC we fought well to draw. Aussies have the absolute winning hunger which England or SA may not have really. Aussie fighting spirit is simply embedded in their genetics.