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February 29, 2004
Sri Lanka 202 for 7 (Zoysa 47*) beat Australia 198 for 7 (Symonds 40*, Zoysa 3-48) by three wickets
Nuwan Zoysa - three wickets and 47 not out
© Getty Images
Although the series was already lost, Sri Lanka salvaged some pride with a three-wicket victory against a weakened Australia outfit at the Sinhalese Sports Club. Their bowlers first restricted Australia to a modest 198 for 7 on a fine batting strip and then, powered by a magnificent 66-run stand for the eighth wicket between Nuwan Zoysa and Russel Arnold, sneaked home with 13 balls to spare.
Zoysa was the undisputed star of the show with bat and ball. In the morning he started Australia's problems, nipping out both openers before finishing with 3 for 34. Then, in the afternoon, when all but the most loyal Sri Lanka fan had given up hope at 136 for 7, Zoysa smashed 47 from 42 balls, hitting five fours and two sixes, to carry Sri Lanka home.
Sri Lanka had made a shaky start to their run-chase. Marvan Atapattu, who could have been dismissed off the first two balls of the innings as he swished at wide outswingers from Brett Lee, was bowled through the gate by an inswinger from Michael Kasprowicz (2 for 1).
Sanath Jayasuriya avoided a third consecutive duck - his first run was cheered to the rafters by an excitable Sunday crowd - but Lee, who bowled aggressively and also swung the new ball wickedly, cramped him for room with a short one and Brad Williams pouched a simple catch running in from long leg (27 for 2).
Kumar Sangakkara, meanwhile, was riding his luck. He was perilously close to being lbw first ball to Kasprowicz and Lee's appeal shortly after was even closer. But he soon found his feet and counterattacked in the same thrilling vein that proved so successful on Friday night.
Brad Hogg did a fine job at the end of Australia's innings
© Getty Images
Lee was punched through the off side and then cut savagely over point. Kasprowicz was clipped through the leg side and then flat-batted through the covers. Sri Lanka sped past fifty in the 12th over. When Brad Hogg entered the fray, Sangakkara charged down the wicket and lofted back over the bowler's head.
Mahela Jayawardene was also playing positively, hitting four fours in his 30-ball 21, as 60 runs were added in 63 balls. Brad Williams, though, briefly silenced the noisy 15,000-strong crowd as Jayawardene edged to slip. Moments later, Sangakkara was bowled behind his legs by Hogg having scored 37 from 41 balls with seven fours and at 91 for 4 the match was back in the balance.
Saman Jayantha (23) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (15) added 26 in 37 balls, with Jayantha hitting four fours, before Michael Kasprowicz, recalled to the attack, nipped a delivery back through Jayantha's defenses. Gilchrist's next bowling change was also successful as Andrew Symonds deceived Dilshan with a classic offbreak that jack-knifed back through the gate (126 for 6).
The innings ground to a halt as Russel Arnold, under intense pressure as he fought for his place in the side, tried to consolidate. Upul Chandana, normally such a perky player, was also becalmed as only 10 runs were added in 37 balls. Gilchrist pulled in his field and Chandana duly obliged with a gloved catch to short leg (136 for 7).
But gradually Zoysa and Arnold started to knit together a partnership. The runs came in a slow trickle at the start but the momentum started to swing Sri Lanka's way. Finally, moments after Williams had spilled a diving catch off a legside flick, Zoysa cut free, pulling Lee for a six and a four during the 44th over of the innings. He followed up with a magnificent straight six off Hogg, and kept the momentum going thereafter, surging home with a legside boundary.
In the morning, Zoysa had created the problems on a fresh surface, whipping out Adam Gilchrist and Brad Haddin. Haddin (9) mistimed a straight drive and skied a towering catch to Sanath Jayasuriya at mid-off. Gilchrist (18), the acting captain with Ricky Ponting resting, was trapped plumb lbw (34 for 2).
Katich (10), playing his first game of the series, and Michael Clarke, batting at No. 3, started to consolidate with a 21-run stand in 32 balls before Zoysa starred again, this time with a sharp pick-up and inch-perfect throw from third man to run out Katich who was returning for a second (55 for 3).
Following Zoysa and Kulasekera's excellent opening spells, Atapattu turned to his slow bowlers. Upul Chandana found immediate turn for his legbreaks and Tillakaratne Dilshan came perilously close to trapping Damien Martyn lbw on 5.
Australia's batsmen found the going hard against spin
© Getty Images
But Martyn and Michael Clarke added 31 in 52 balls and Atapattu finally tossed the ball to Muralitharan in the 23rd over the innings. Clarke, trying to hammer a rare short delivery, top edged a spiralling catch to Dilshan sprinting back from midwicket (86 for 4).
Muralitharan then grabbed his 350th one-day wicket as Michael Bevan prodded at an offbreak and edged to Jayawardene at slip. Muralitharan was whipped out of the attack and Chandana, his replacement, struck with his second ball back as Martyn was bowled for a 63-ball 38 (120 for 6).
Symonds (40) and Brag Hogg (35 not out) partially repaired the damage with a 76-run stand to lift Australia to a modest but defendable total. When Sri Lanka's middle order collapsed it looked like the crucial stand of the match. But Zoysa, back in the side after an 18-month absence, was reading a different script.
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