Vaas bowls Sri Lanka to thrilling win
Sri Lanka 245 (Jayasuriya 55, Atapattu 47, Clarke 5-35) beat Australia 244 for 5 (Hayden 93, Ponting 69, Vaas 3-48) by one run
Chaminda Vaas: sensational spell won the game for Sri Lanka
Chaminda Vaas grabbed three wickets, and kept his cool during a nerve-jangling final over, as Sri Lanka snatched a thrilling one-run victory against Australia at Dambulla. Needing just eight to win from the last six balls with five wickets in hand, Australia looked set for victory, but Vaas conceded only six runs to level the series at 1-1.
For most of the afternoon, it had seemed as if Sri Lanka would pay for a spectacular late batting collapse. Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden added 148 for the second wicket, and Australia were cruising - but the dismissal of Ponting precipitated a slump from 148 for 1 to 192 for 5.
Andrew Symonds - the beneficiary of a bizarre and sporting recall, after being adjudged lbw by Peter Manuel on 10 - and Michael Bevan carried Australia to the brink of victory, adding 52 in 58 balls, but could not finish the job because of Vaas's heroics.
Sri Lanka's top order had batted their team into a commanding position in the morning with partnerships of 121 for the first wicket - between Sanath Jayasuriya (55) and Marvan Atapattu (47) - and 70 for the third between Mahela Jaywardene (38) and Kumar Sangakkara (39). But some reckless batting by the middle and lower order against Michael Clarke's innocuous-looking left-arm spin squandered the initiative as the last seven wickets fell for just 29. Sri Lanka, gliding along at 192 for 2 at one stage, were bowled out with one ball remaining.
Nevertheless, the target was competitive on a dry, worn surface - the same pitch that was used on Friday - that offered plenty of assistance for Sri Lanka's six spinners. Ironically, though, it was Vaas who grabbed the first wicket as Clarke, promoted from the middle order to counter the spinners, shelled the third ball of the innings straight to Upul Chandana at backward point (0 for 1).
Ponting and Hayden took a couple of overs to settle. However, in the fifth over, Ponting cut loose, pulling a short one from Vaas over square leg for six, and then cracking a square cut to the point fence. Thereafter, Australia started to tick along smoothly with both batsmen mixing sharp singles and twos with calculated aggression.
Atapattu rotated his bowlers with increasing desperation. Seven had been used by the 22nd over, and not one of them looked remotely threatening. Even Muttiah Muralitharan, who might have expected to be a major handful on this pitch, was unable to conjure up a breakthrough.
But Sri Lanka finally broke through in the 32nd over as Ponting top-edged a sweep to be caught at deep square leg. Vaas was recalled for a second spell, and he deceived Damien Martyn with a slower ball to put Sri Lanka right back in the match (170 for 3).
Australia started the final ten overs needing a modest 56 to win, but suffered a massive blow when Hayden miscued a lofted drive to be caught at wide long-off. In the same over, Dharmasena won an lbw decision against Symonds that was later overruled following discussions between Gilchrist, the non-striker, the umpires and Atapattu - after it became clear that Symonds had edged the ball on to his pads.
Although Vaas clung on to a tumbling caught-and-bowled chance off Gilchrist in the next over to leave Australia 192 for 5, Atapattu's sportsmanship looked to have cost Sri Lanka victory as Symonds and Bevan steadily chipped away at the target. When Bevan smashed Muralitharan for six over midwicket in the 49th over, it looked all over.
Ricky Ponting's allround brilliance went in vain
But Vaas conceded just two singles off his first two balls, and then followed up with consecutive dot-balls to leave Australia needing six off two. Symonds could only scamper a single and Bevan was unable to hit a six off the last ball.
Atapattu had started the day well, winning what appeared a crucial toss and then leading from the front with the bat. While Jayasuriya was unusually nervy at the start, labouring for 32 balls before hitting his first boundary, Atapattu played fluently, puncturing the infield with high-elbowed drives and clips.
Both Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee struggled to find rhythm early on, though Gillespie was unlucky to not claim an early lbw against Jayasuriya, when he had made just 10. The arrival of Symonds into the attack finally shook Jayasuriya out of his slumber. His second ball, a medium-pacer, was clubbed over cover and his fourth delivery, an offbreak, was smashed over midwicket. Jayasuriya sprinted to his fifty, the 55th of his one-day career, as Atapattu settled back into a supporting role.
It was Ponting who came to his side's aid. Athletically flinging himself to his left at midwicket, he then broke the stumps at the non-striker's end with a diving underarm flick. Atapattu had scored 47 from 68 balls. Next over, Symonds trapped Jayasuriya lbw with an offbreak that crept along the floor.
The run rate slowed as Jayawardene and Sangakkara, who had added 121 together in the first game, played themselves in. The spinners, Symonds and Brad Hogg, troubled both batsmen, and strokeplay was never easy on a pitch that grew increasingly slow. But Jayawardene, who survived a run-out chance on 4 when Symonds's throw missed the stumps, settled - and runs started to flow. Sangakkara, who managed just a single boundary in his 58-ball 39, allowed his partner to take the initiative as 70 were added in 98 balls.
Ponting's decision to replace Lee with Clarke paid dividends as Jayawardene was caught at cover trying to loft over the infield (192 for 3). Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan then added 24 in 29 balls before the innings lurched into freefall - the last seven wickets fell for 29 courtesy of a rash of ambitious strokes. Luckily for Sri Lanka, Australia fluffed their final lines as well in the late-afternoon sunshine.