Australia v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Hobart January 23, 2013

Hughes hundred ensures Australia draw series


Australia 5 for 247 (Hughes 138*) beat Sri Lanka 215 (Mathews 67, Doherty 3-21, Henriques 3-32) by 32 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

On debut, Phillip Hughes scored a century to give Australia a 1-0 lead in this series. In the final game, he made another hundred to save Australia from series defeat and salvage a 2-2 result. Set 248 to win the game and the five-match contest, Sri Lanka struggled early, staged a plucky fightback led by Angelo Mathews, and ultimately fell short as Australia's bowlers backed up the fine work of Hughes, whose unbeaten 138 was all the more important in a batting line-up missing Michael Clarke.

Australia's captain had been ruled out due to an ankle injury suffered at training on the day before the match and it left the Australians with a flimsy looking batting order that featured the allrounders Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques at Nos. 6 and 7. But Hughes ensured the heavy lifting was done by the time those men walked to the crease and having been sent in by Mahela Jayawardene, who backed his team's chasing form, the Australians were pleased with their 5 for 247.

Still, the pitch was good, and only last summer Sri Lanka had successfully chased down 281 to beat the Australians at the same venue. The visitors knew they were in with a good chance. But early wickets were costly, and ultimately fatal to their victory hopes. At the halfway point of the chase Sri Lanka were 4 for 85, with barely one-third of the runs they needed. For most of the final 15 overs, the required run-rate hovered above nine an over.

Mathews and Jeevan Mendis caused Australia some jitters with a 79-run stand that in its latter stages kept up with the required rate, but when both men fell in consecutive overs with 61 runs still required, it was all but over. They had picked the gaps well and were finding the boundary regularly until Mendis (26) advanced to Moises Henriques, who sent the bull full and straight and rattled the stumps.

In the next over, Mathews fell for 67 from 79 balls when he tried to pull a slower-ball bouncer from Mitchell Johnson and succeeded only in lobbing a catch to midwicket. Henriques followed up by bowling Thisara Perera for 7 and he finished with 3 for 32 from his ten overs, an impressive performance from a man whose results so far in the series had been slim. Clint McKay finished the job with the final two wickets to secure the 32-run victory in the 49th over.

The problems had started for Sri Lanka through a somewhat unlikely source, the spinner Xavier Doherty, who had not taken a wicket in the series until this game. But his flight and subtle turn troubled the Sri Lankans and he ended a promising opening partnership of 57 when Mahela Jayawardene, who looked in crisp form for 38 from 39 balls, tried to drive Doherty over mid-off and instead lobbed a catch to mid-on.

In Doherty's next over he added the wicket of Lahiru Thirimanne, who with 1 from 10 balls had struggled to make a fluent start. The pressure of dot balls accounted for Thirimanne, who tried to smash Doherty over midwicket and was caught in the deep. Tillakaratne Dilshan followed for a scratchy 19 from 48 balls when he tickled a catch through to Matthew Wade off Henriques, who found just enough away movement.

The Sri Lankan chase was almost derailed when Dinesh Chandimal (6) played an ugly attempted flick through leg only to see Doherty's ball spin just enough to beat the bat and hit the stumps. At 4 for 77, Sri Lanka needed something special. It didn't come from Kushal Perera, who top-edged Johnson and was caught at midwicket for 14, leaving the score at 5 for 108.

Slowly, Mathews and Mendis worked Sri Lanka back into the contest and Mathews could dream of another come-from-behind chase, just like he orchestrated in his first match in Australia three years ago. But not this time. This time, the runs posted by Hughes early in the match proved the difference. His hundred was all the more important after Australia lost both their openers within the first ten overs of the game.

There were useful contributions from several batsmen, notably David Hussey with 34, but Hughes was the key man and finished unbeaten on 138 from 154 balls. While Hughes lifted his tempo in the final stages, some of his partners were unable to stick around. Hussey was run out when he slammed the ball into the ground and back to the bowler Thisara Perera and inexplicably took off for a run that wasn't there, giving Perera plenty of time to throw down the stumps.

Glenn Maxwell followed for 9 when he skied a catch to cover off Lasith Malinga, providing Maxwell with his third single-figure score from three ODIs in this series. That was Malinga's only wicket for the innings and while some of his yorkers in the middle overs were threatening, overall he was not quite as dangerous as during the previous few games. Nor was Nuwan Kulasekara, who collected 1 for 57 and couldn't find the same sort of swing he had displayed over the past week.

In fact, Sri Lanka's best bowler was arguably the part-timer Dilshan, who opened, sent down three maidens, and finished with 1 for 22 from seven overs. Dilshan broke the 31-run opening stand between David Warner and Matthew Wade, who was moved up from the middle order. On 10, Warner played for a straight ball but Dilshan, coming around the wicket, got the ball to straighten enough to beat the bat of Warner, who looked back to see his off stump disturbed.

Wade (23) was lbw to Kulasekara in the tenth over, his ill-judged attempted late cut to a straight ball matched only by his poor decision to have Richard Kettleborough's lbw call reviewed. That left the Australians at 2 for 37 and needing to prevent another collapse. Hughes and the stand-in captain George Bailey steadied the innings with a 60-run partnership which, although not brisk, was important. On 17, Bailey chipped a return catch to Thisara Perera but Australia had a platform.

Hughes, fresh from three single-figure scores, was initially cautious but started to pick off some boundaries as his innings moved on, including a couple of handsome drives through cover and mid-off when the Sri Lankan fast bowlers overpitched. His half-century came from 82 balls and gradually he became more and more confident, even opening his stance to crunch Malinga through wide mid-on for a boundary.

His hundred came with a cut for four off Perera from his 132nd delivery and he was keen to lift the scoring rate after that, slogging Kulasekara over midwicket for the only six of the innings. The Australians picked up 47 runs in the final five overs, 30 of which came from the bat of Hughes.

In the end, Hughes wasn't Player of the Series - that honour went to Kulasekara - but he was Man of the Match in Australia's two wins. Not bad for a first effort.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chandana on January 26, 2013, 2:43 GMT

    The pitch is famous no seam moment and uneven bounce in the afternoon session. Bowling first is a critical mistake we made in that wicket. MJ played a nothing shot so as Thirimanne. Last final when chasing MJ played a nothing shot and got out to Clint Mackay on Adelaide oval. We lost that match in same circumstances. In this final our target was 247 + score board pressure. How nice if we could give that to Aus specially we are bowling well throughout the tournament. It is not sad to lose this match after batting first. Our weakness was batting in this tournament. (so fragile) MJ is not a good captain as everyone boasted. Adding to that he has not provided significant innings to win those finals. Class batsmen so frequently scores centuries to win important tournaments. (provide significant contributions)

  • Prashan on January 25, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    @Meety, well I hope Hobart curator will not prepare a sluggish pitch like that hereafter. If Hughes was dismissed at 20 off Mathews, things would have been different. You can imagine the slowness of the pitch if the bails did not pop off right?? He was so lucky! We also failed to take adequate singles between the 20th and 30th overs. Angelo had way too much to score in the end. Our batsmen were dismissed by trying to clear the infield where the ball came 1/100th of a second slower than usual making the ball go up giving dolly catches to the fielders.

    Even if Aussies put there U19 team to face us, it is Australia as it is their choice of XI whom they put to play.

    Our thinktank is poor in making decisions in the leadup to the match. Good example is also last year how we won the toss in Cape Town test match & opted to field on a good batting pitch. Not just that. In June last year, against Pakistan at the SSC in Colombo we won the toss and opted to field on the flattest pitch of all!

  • gnanavelu on January 25, 2013, 14:40 GMT

    @htc_android. Do you know that chandimal and herath were staying back after the tests? I think lankan management was afraid to field herath that he may leak runs. We all know many better spinners in world have struggled in australia. I get a feeling that lankan board avoided fielding herath since it may dent his 'next best to murali' image which they are trying to create. But i think herath should have been fielded as he is a good spinner.

  • associate cricket fan on January 25, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    @gnanzcupid. We bowled out the full strength Australian side for 74 runs in the 3rd ODI. Clarke, wade, warner all of them playing in that game. Only watson was missing. Hussey has retired from international cricket. We too played without sanga, Herath and chandimal in the same ODI.

  • Andrew on January 25, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    @TrueLankan on (January 25 2013, 05:13 AM GMT) - oops, forgot about the Champ Trophy! @We_Love_cricket on (January 25 2013, 06:37 AM GMT) - sorry but MJs decision to bowl first was only bad in retrospect. Everything else about the decision was sound. SL had beaten Oz last year chasing a score of 280-ish, they beat Oz twice chasing. MJ was banking on Kalusekara continuing his hold on Oz batsmen - it didn't happen. There is no point blaming the decision, nobody was to know for sure the pitch would get a bit harder to score on. If SL had rotated the strike a bit more, had more wickets in hand at the 30 over mark, they could of won. They let Oz get about 20 runs too many & they left Mathews with too much to do (he is not Dhoni yet). @Sinhaya on (January 25 2013, 10:30 AM GMT) - I agree, no way was Oz a B-team. It was minus some star quality at times (MHussey, Watto & Calrke), but the top 3 that debuted in Game 1 - all have pedigree in 50 over cricket & our attack was near full strength!

  • Prashan on January 25, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    @gnanzcupid, well I dont want to talk about England's performance in the ODIs against India. I did not have much time to watch them. I did see the debates between fans here on cricinfo however.

    I wont call Australian ODI team for this series as a B team. It was their choice and we got the best XI all out for 74 and that was great. We got hammered in the 1st ODI due to our negligence as well. Three run outs is awful indeed and that was addressed by the time it was the 2nd ODI. England too is missing their best bowlers for the ODI series right now in India but that is England's choice to rest them and not a BCCI request.

    We have to show a lot more commitment to win test matches in India and Australia. If we have won test matches in Pakistan, England, SA, NZ, WI etc nothing can stop us winning tests in India and Australia as well. We got thrashed 3-0 in tests when on paper we are better than that. Sad fact is that at home even we have played our worse test cricket against Aussies.

  • Prashan on January 25, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    @TrueLankan, well we must wait till December this year to see how we fair against Pakistan and the likely venue for that will be UAE where the pitches will be identically sluggish to the Hobart surface used for the 5th ODI. Thirimanne should be given chances as no.3 in ODIs against Bangladesh to boost his confidence. Our test record against Australia is awful both home and away. Something is radically wrong for that to happen. We have squadered winnable test matches 4 times against the Aussies to end up losing pathetically.

  • Prashan on January 25, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    @Meety, I did not see the post match ceremony. Well I have my negative views about the SCG washout but being diplomatic with you, I agree Australia had 2 atrocious umpiring errors and if not for that, another 30 runs would have been likely. Clarke better not be selfish by reviewing such plumb LBWs as he must accept the biggest share of the blame. Anyway, we too had a 50% chance of chasing and succeeding at the SCG. Our good ODI record in Australia is positive ahead of the 2015 world cup. Hopefully the 17th June Aust SL game at the Oval will be a thriller.

  • Chandana on January 25, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    MJ is a good player and a gentleman without any argument. As a captain, he was taking very bad decisions on important games.That is why he couldn't win any of the finals so far. Having won the toss and ask to bat Aus is such a bad decision. Gabba (3rd ODI) match is a good example to measure up our batting ability. Batting is fragile even chasing small totals in pressure situation. We bowled really well throughout the tournament. There was no Clarke on the last game. The pitch is reputed on no seam moment and second session uneven bounce. Last time we scored 330 odd runs on batting first with Dilshan's 160. (we lost the game to Virat Kohli) All these facts are telling us to see batting first in this wicket. But MJ made a wrong decision. He must be fined by Cricket board of Sri Lanka!!!

  • gnanavelu on January 25, 2013, 6:22 GMT

    @sinhaya. I hope nz will put a decent show against the poms. Poms are getting battered by the indians in odi's which will dent their momentum and confidence,though they should try to carry their test form. I also have a question. Yourselves have claimed that our team is b team,but though your team did manage to pull 2 games,you should also remember to feel bad for losing 2 games to a b team(as you acknowledged me back with the same). Way to go lanka. Have to impove a lot if lankans even dream to beat australia and india at their home. I personally feel lankans dint win in these countries due to lack of technique and application by the lankan players.

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