Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day

Lee spearheads a big Australia win

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

November 12, 2007

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Australia 4 for 551 dec beat Sri Lanka 211 and 300 (Silva 43, Lee 4-86) by an innings and 40 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Brett Lee collected the Man-of-the-Match award thanks to his match figures of 8 for 112 (file photo) © Getty Images

Brett Lee helped Australia beat not only Sri Lanka but also the unpredictable Brisbane weather as the hosts rattled out the last five wickets between rain breaks on the final day. Lee claimed 4 for 86 to confirm Australia's 1-0 lead ahead of the second Test in the two-match series, which starts in Hobart on Friday.

Australia won their first Test of the post-Warne, McGrath and Langer era by an innings and 40 runs and it was fitting that Lee, the attack's new spearhead, was the leading trouble-maker and the Man of the Match. Pleasingly for Australia, he was also building on the work of their new opener, Phil Jaques, who made 100, while another fresh face, Mitchell Johnson, chipped in with two wickets in each innings.

After Michael Vandort induced a slight hiccup from Australia on the fourth day, Lee made sure the plan came back on track on the final morning despite Chamara Silva's 43. Silva was guiding Sri Lanka closer to making Australia bat again when he fell 15 minutes before lunch, trying to flick Lee into the on side and finding a leading edge that flew to Michael Hussey at wide third man.

That was the key breakthrough in a session that brought two rain interruptions that halted Australia's progress. Wet conditions in Brisbane overnight had indicated that Australia might have to race the weather radar while chasing victory, although play began under sunny skies.

Silva struck five fours - including two pulls and an edge past the slips from one Lee over - in his 63-ball stay as he tried to rein in Sri Lanka's deficit as quickly as possible. However, his departure opened the door for Lee, who followed by bowling Dilhara Fernando for 7 to leave Sri Lanka nine down at lunch.

Stuart Clark finished the job following the break when he bowled Muttiah Muralitharan for 4 with a fullish ball after Lee could not bowl straight enough to shatter Muralitharan's stumps and earn a five-wicket haul. Lee had to settle for match figures of 8 for 112, including Farveez Maharoof (18), who briefly helped Silva's resistance before losing his off stump to Lee, who had rattled him with three bouncers in the same over.

Prasanna Jayawardene started the day with Silva but ran out of luck when he was lbw for 1 from 21 balls, failing to pick which way Clark moved the ball off the pitch. Jayawardene tucked his bat in behind his front pad expecting a leg cutter but the ball inched the other way and struck him in line with middle stump. Clark deserved a breakthrough after he should have had Silva in the fourth over of the day. Silva was on 10 when he clipped to midwicket where Phil Jaques spilled a straightforward chance to his right.

Jaques' drop was a rare blemish from the new-look Australian outfit, which showed few signs of stress after losing several of its biggest stars following the Ashes triumph. Jaques' hundred, Michael Hussey's 133, Michael Clarke's unbeaten 145 and Andrew Symonds' quick 53 not out were terrific signs for a top order that could have relied on its two most experienced members, Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden.

There were few positives for Sri Lanka, on the other hand, who failed to bowl Australia out after sending them in, found only two batsmen who could score half-centuries and had their selectors labelled "muppets headed by a joker" by one of their senior players. The visitors will need a big improvement and some better decision-making to draw the series at Bellerive Oval, a ground where Australia have never been beaten in a Test.

Brydon Coverdale is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

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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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Players/Officials: Stuart Clark | Brett Lee | Chamara Silva
Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of Australia
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