Australia v Sri Lanka, VB Series, Melbourne

Awesome Australia off to a flier

The Report by Martin Williamson

January 13, 2006

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Australia 5 for 318 (Martyn 70, Symonds 66, Katich 60) beat Sri Lanka 7 for 202 (Jayawardene 50) by 116 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out



Andrew Symonds: cut loose with a 61-ball 66 to sink Sri Lanka © Getty Images
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Australia overcame an indifferent start to crush Sri Lanka by 116 runs in the opening match of this season's VB Series at Melbourne's Telstra Dome. Only briefly, when Australia struggled in their first 15 overs, was this even a contest but from the moment their batsmen cut loose, it became an increasingly one-sided affair. There was more than enough entertainment to keep a decent crowd amused, but it left a suspicion that Sri Lanka will struggle to retain a foothold in the competition.

The game's watershed came in the 16th over when Damien Martyn was caught off a no-ball from Chaminda Vaas. He certainly did not hear the call and was trooping off before he became aware of the reprieve. He celebrated by smacking Vaas for a massive six over cover and never looked back. With Simon Katich, he added 74 in 11 overs and Australia disappeared into the distance.

Sri Lanka began brightly after putting Australia in, dismissing both Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting for 13 in a rather low-key beginning, Gilchrist missing an attempted heave over midwicket and Ponting, after an indifferent stay, gave Ruchira Perera the charge and missed. At the 15-over drinks break, Australia were 2 for 64 and Sri Lanka, coming into this match in dreadful one-day form, sniffed the slightest of openings.

But the real strength of this Australian side is that it bats in depth, and that frees their batsmen to play their shots with little fear. There was a certain inevitability that Katich, who had been trying to run himself out all afternoon - surviving several close calls because the fielders kept missing the stumps - would go that way. His luck finally ended when he had made 60, Tillakaratne Dilshan scoring a direct hit after a classic yes-no mix-up with Martyn.

To the crowd's delight, that brought in Andrew Symonds, and rather than check the momentum it just resulted in it going into overdrive. It was one of those days when everything he tried came off, and even when he mistimed his strokes the end result was still the same. With Martyn he added 106 at more than a run a ball and Marvan Atapattu could do little other than shuffle his bowlers around. The outcome was the same whatever he did, although the fielding was at times sloppy - Atapattu himself dropped Martyn - and against the world champions, that's a luxury no side can afford.



Tillakaratne Dilshan loses his off stump as Sri Lanka lost their way © Getty Images
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Martyn's 64-ball 70 ended with a rather tired swish and Symonds (66 off 61) fell to a freak dismissal when his straight drive hammered into Michael Clarke's boot and lobbed to Dilshan. It mattered little by then, and as Symonds departed he grinned at a smiling Clarke and indicated he was owed a post-match pint. You can laugh when you are cruising.

Clarke and Michael Hussey then dismembered the corpse, improvising at will and smashing the ball to all parts as they added 90 in a little under 11 overs at the death.

If Sri Lanka faced a daunting ask when they started their innings, it soon became almost impossible when Australia caught them cold. Brett Lee's opening two-wicket burst and a third from Nathan Bracken all but ended this match as a contest as they slid to 3 for 31.

Lee struck with his second ball, bring one back to clip Upul Tharanga's off stump, and then in his second over Jehan Mubarak nicked one low to Ponting at second slip. With Australia's fielding and bowling every bit as good as their batting had been, the game took on an increasingly one-sided feel, and when Kumar Sangakarra's attempted leg-side flick looped to Clarke at mid-off, it was a question of by how much Australia would win.

The remainder of Sri Lanka's innings was of little consequence. Michael Vandort opted for crease occupation - always a good strategy in a one-day run chase - and made a turgid 48 off 117 balls before he ran himself out to end his and the crowd's misery. Mahela Jayawardene made a breezy fifty of no consequence, James Hopes bowled a tidy spell, but it was all academic.

Australia, in case anyone doubted it, looked to be back to their opposition-crushing best, but Sri Lanka have some serious issues to overcome. Since October they have won only two of the 12 ODIs they have played, and both of those have been in dead matches. On today's evidence, that record is unlikely to improve during this series.

How they were out

Australia

Adam Gilchrist lbw b Perera 13 (1 for 25)
Missed attempting swing over midwicket

Ricky Ponting b Perera 13 (2 for 58)
Gave bowler the charge and missed

Simon Katich run out (Dilshan) 60 (3 for 132)
Yes-no call, sent back, direct hit

Damien Martyn b Fernando 70 (4 for 238)
Missed big heave

Andrew Symonds c Dilshan b Mubarak 66 (5 for 241)
Freak dismissal, deflected off non-striker's heel

Sri Lanka

Upal Tharanga b Lee 2 (1 for 2)
Inswinger clipped off stump

Jehan Mubarak c Ponting b Lee 2 (2 for 11)
Edged low to second slip

Kumar Sangakkara c Martyn b Bracken 16 (3 for 32)
Leading edge to attempted leg-side flick, looped to mid-off

Tillakaratne Dilshan b Bracken 29 (4 for 93)
Missed straight one

Michael Vandort run out (Ponting) 49 (5 for 118)
Poor judgment, well short

Marvan Atapattu c Katich b Hogg 8 (6 for 137)
Acrobatic catch above head at widish mid-off

Mahela Jayawardene c & b Hopes 50 (7 for 176)
Bowler held back ball, chipped return catch

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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