Hughes sets up huge Australia win
Australia 5 for 305 (Hughes 112, Bailey 89, Hussey 60*) beat Sri Lanka 198 (Chandimal 73, Dilshan 51, McKay 4-33) by 107 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
B-team, hey? An Australian outfit led by George Bailey in his 14th ODI and featuring three debutants did what sides captained by Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson have not managed to do in the past three one-day international encounters against Sri Lanka at the MCG: win. One of those first-gamers, Phillip Hughes, became the first Australian to score a century on ODI debut and Bailey fell just short of a captain's hundred to drive Australia to 5 for 305, before a series of run-outs derailed Sri Lanka's chase.
In the end, the Australians - without Clarke, Watson, David Warner, Michael Hussey and Matthew Wade - cruised to victory by 107 runs. If they can do something similar in the second match in Adelaide on Sunday, it might be hard for the selectors to make too many changes. But whatever happens, what can't be altered is the strong performance Bailey's side put up at the MCG. They had the best of the conditions, forcing Sri Lanka to field on a very hot afternoon, but they also grabbed their opportunities.
Literally. Brad Haddin, recalled for his first international match in nearly a year, took a stunning catch to end the innings of Dinesh Chandimal, and any lingering hope Sri Lanka had of pulling off a heist. On 73, Chandimal got a thick edge to a delivery from Clint McKay and Haddin, 35, hurled himself in the air and to his right with the athleticism of a man ten years his junior, and plucked the ball out of mid-air. It was that sort of night for the Australians, who completed three sharp run-outs.
One of those ended the 94-run stand between Chandimal and Tillakaratne Dilshan, a partnership that might have left Bailey slightly nervous as they gained momentum. But a direct-hit from debutant Khawaja ended Dilshan's innings on 51, before two run-outs from consecutive deliveries - one a direct hit from Glenn Maxwell and the second a combination effort from Maxwell and Haddin - got rid of Angelo Mathews for 12 and Lahiru Thirimanne for a diamond duck.
After that, and Haddin's lightning catch, it was all academic. Mitchell Johnson picked up a couple of wickets and McKay cleaned up the tail to finish with 4 for 33 as the Sri Lankans were dismissed for 198 in the 40th over. Really, it was only the Chandimal-Dilshan stand that gave Sri Lanka any hope, after Mitchell Starc had Upul Tharanga caught behind for 1 in the third over and McKay had Mahela Jayawardene taken by Aaron Finch at slip for 5. It wasn't the kind of start Sri Lanka wanted after conceding so many runs to the Australians.
A late half-century from David Hussey, who was auditioning to become the permanent middle-order replacement for his retiring brother Michael, pushed the Australians past the 300-mark as the final ten overs brought 89 runs. Hussey finished unbeaten on 60 from 34 deliveries and took 21 off the last over, bowled by Ajantha Mendis, including a six over long-off to bring up his half-century. It was a fine finish for the Australians, who had chosen to bat on a very hot afternoon.
The presence of three debutants at the top of Australia's order for the first time in a one-day international since the days of World Series Cricket didn't prove a major problem as Hughes showed why he has been one of the country's best domestic one-day batsmen in the past two years. His 112 from 129 balls made him the eighth man to make a hundred on ODI debut and surpassed Phil Jaques (94) as the leading Australian scorer on debut.
His 140-run third-wicket stand with Bailey was the key for Australia after the other two debutants, Finch and Khawaja, fell within the first 16 overs. Finch was caught behind for 16 when he pushed at a Mendis delivery that appeared to be a back-of-the-hand legbreak, and Khawaja was run out for 3 when he was turned back trying for a quick single to the leg side.
Another near run-out came from the ball that brought Hughes his fifty from 57 deliveries, but he and Bailey survived that and a number of other close calls. Hughes was especially powerful through the off side, cutting and cover-driving when given width, exactly the kind of strokes he typically plays in Test cricket.
He also picked up three boundaries through the leg side and after a slight lull in the 80s and 90s, reached his century from his 123rd delivery with a single clipped wide of midwicket. A searing pair of boundaries through the off side against Lasith Malinga followed in the next over, but then Malinga had the consolation of having Hughes caught behind while backing away and making room, and it ended a fine innings that will make Hughes hard to drop.
At the other end, Bailey had scored at a brisker rate than Hughes and picked the gaps well, working the ball effectively off his pads and driving straight down the ground, including one six lofted over long-on off Jeevan Mendis. Bailey's half-century came from 44 balls and he looked set for his first ODI century until he latched on to a Mathews delivery and sent it straight into the hands of Jeevan Mendis at deep midwicket.
Maxwell followed soon afterwards when he chipped Nuwan Kulasekara to midwicket for 5, but then Hussey and Haddin finished the task well. Hussey struck six fours and one six, while Haddin wound up on 10 from 13 balls. In the end, it was more than enough. Not bad for a so-called B-team.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here