Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Perth February 10, 2012

Australia hold on for five-run victory


Australia 231 (Clarke 57, Mathews 2-37) beat Sri Lanka 226 (Mathews 64, Doherty 2-24) by 5 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Angelo Mathews narrowly failed to deliver victory to Sri Lanka at the WACA, where Australia held on by five runs in a thrilling finish. Sri Lanka needed 18 from the final over bowled by Mitchell Starc, and Mathews gave them every chance by pulling the first ball for four and driving the next delivery over long-off for six, before a pair of singles left the visitors needing six from two balls.

But Mathews skied the next delivery to long-on, where Daniel Christian held his nerve to take the catch, ensuring Australia remained unbeaten in the Commonwealth Bank Series. And while Australia did, for the most part, bowl and field well, they could consider themselves fortunate to have escaped with victory after posting what appeared a sub-par total, of 231, with Michael Clarke (57) the only man to score a half-century.

Sri Lanka were on track in the chase before a middle-order collapse left too much to Mathews and the tail. That Mathews nearly got them home was remarkable, as was his 46-run tenth-wicket stand with Dhammika Prasad, but his dismissal for 64 should at least mean the rest of the batting order is held accountable for a disappointing effort that undid the fine work of the bowlers.

The Australia bowlers were also impressive. Xavier Doherty was the standout with a miserly 2 for 24 from his ten overs but there were other positives from the hosts in the field. Starc hooped the new ball and claimed an early wicket, Christian picked up two victims to add to his handy 33 with the bat, Clint McKay completed a terrific run-out from side-on and Matthew Wade enhanced his reputation with a stumping and a wonderful diving catch.

Despite the early loss of Upul Tharanga, who edged a Starc outswinger to Clarke at slip in the fourth over, Sri Lanka seemed to have the chase in control as Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal all looked comfortable at the crease. It was a Sri Lankan error - and a great throw from McKay - that led to Sangakkara's dismissal for 22 when he pushed into the leg side and took off for a single.

But both he and his partner Dilshan hesitated after a few steps, and the stop-start confusion resulted in Sangakkara trying to return to his crease only to be beaten by a side-on direct hit from the bowler McKay, who had collected the ball from short midwicket. As he walked off, Sangakkara directed a glare towards Dilshan, knowing that if their 50-run stand had continued a while longer, Sri Lanka would have been in a terrific position.

Instead, Dilshan's scoring-rate slowed - he had struck three searing boundaries through the off side early in his innings - and on 40 from 56 deliveries he was caught behind off Ryan Harris when the ball tickled the inside edge. Another straightforward catch to Wade followed when Mahela Jayawardene tried to steer Christian to third man but succeeded only in feathering behind.

In the next over Doherty struck the first of his two blows. The WACA is not known as a spinner's paradise but Doherty extracted severe turn in to the left-hander Lahiru Thirimanne, who saw the ball pitch outside off and sneak between bat and pad to take the leg stump. Impressed by what he saw from Doherty, Clarke decided to bowl some left-arm spin himself and broke through with his first ball when, from around the wicket, he skidded one on and struck Chandimal in front for 37.

That was followed by an excellent catch from Wade, who dived to his right in front of first slip to snare Nuwan Kulasekara off the bowling of Christian. At 7 for 143, Sri Lanka's hopes seemed to have disappeared, a feeling that was only enforced further when Doherty turned a ball past the outside edge of an advancing Sachithra Senanayake, who was stumped by Wade, and when Lasith Malinga edged behind off McKay.

At that stage, Sri Lanka still needed 52 runs, and through Mathews and Prasad they nearly got there. At the change of innings they deserved to be favourites. Jaywardene had sent Australia in, and while it was an unexpected decision it proved not a bad one as Sri Lanka's sharp fielding helped restrict Australia to 231.

Clarke (57) had assistance from Christian during the only half-century partnership of the innings but when the offspinner Sachithra Senanayake broke that stand in the 40th over Australia faced the prospect of not batting out their time. Christian was stumped for 33 when he failed to pick the straighter delivery and Clarke fell in the following over.

He was the victim of an excellent catch by the opposing captain, Jayawardene, who moved low to his right to snaffle the chance at midwicket off the bowling of Angelo Mathews. Clarke had not found it easy to keep the scoring-rate up and had struck only four boundaries in his 88-ball stay, but until that moment he had at least provided an anchor for the innings

Some useful late runs came from McKay and Starc, and Sri Lanka would ultimately rue the 39 runs added by the last two pairs. McKay had survived an edge behind on 15 when Sangakkara didn't cleanly pouch a low ball, and it was a rare miss for Sri Lanka in what was generally an impressive fielding effort.

Several Australia batsmen fell to fine catches: David Hussey's leading edge off Malinga was collected at cover by Thirimanne, who had to dive forward and to his left, and Clarke was snapped up by a quick-moving Jayawardene at midwicket off the bowling of Mathews. But the best was Kulasekara's return catch to get rid of Michael Hussey for 23. He pushed at a fuller ball from Kulasekara, who dived to his right to take a wonderful one-handed catch.

Kulasekara had also been the man who gave Sri Lanka their positive start, when he picked up a wicket in the fourth over, when Wade prodded outside off and edged behind for 1. Wade was the quiet partner in the opening stand as David Warner played a few shots that encouraged the Perth crowd to think a repeat of his blazing Test hundred at the venue might be in the making.

His lofted six off over long-on against Malinga was the standout stroke, but on 34 from 28 deliveries he played on to Mathews, who got a ball to straighten just enough. It was the first of several good things Mathew did in the match. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, they needed one more.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sarath on February 13, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    We've b'n a very inconsistent Team for the last 25 y's becos the sl'ctors 've always preferred to reckless hitters to quality batters the class of S'weera or T'dulkar for that matter. Any level of consistency can't be achieved by employing batters who offer too many risky (false, edgy & lofted) strokes from the very 1st ball they face. The Country needs batters whose success rate at least 4out of 5 innings played (i.e. batsmen who can get a chance-less (50)substantial score). Unfortunately the sl'ctors have always gone for batters who lacked in skills to last at least for 5 overs. What the selectors should do is to go for other quality batters the likes of M'hews,C'dimal & T'manne who have had maintained consistency since the age of15years that has 1stCla.Bat.Avs. around 45. At present both the 1st&2nd XI teams have been filled with too many unreliable batsmen. Our series lost to England 2XI team that toured the Country recently is a good example to estimate the selectors' ignorance.

  • Lalindra on February 12, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    Fantastic match!! nail biting ,i think its high time for Mahela and the boys to play solid and ruthless cricket CZ 4 da past 10 years under various captains Sri Lanka specially against Australia are always playing catchup cricket and once in a blue moon perform strongly.when Ur always in a good position and then 2 losing and last minute mathews or someone have to come in and play a heroes innings and steady da ship. da thing is you can win like that also but ,in the long term its not a good strategy to implement as da pressure levels get to the players and as a result u win 1 or 2 and get famous all over the world 4 pulling it off against the Aussies but then again you lose a lot because Aussies drain your energy no matter how good you are.

  • Tharindu on February 12, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    I agree with Kasun Sameera because Upul has proved that he's not a suitable player in these conditions...No doubt he's a good batsman, but certainly not in Australia since past records prove it very well. Other thing is Mahela is really wasting him self in that position because he can come back to his form very quickly if he will play as an opener in the next match...Let's give Maharoof a chance and see whether he has overcome that FAMOUS inconsistency problem.

  • Dummy4 on February 11, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    @Cricketlover555 Lanka clearly not deserve to be in finals... Because SL gave a fight unlike IND LOL! How funny it is.I think IND is not deserve so but not SL. Anyway final will be IND Vs AUS because SLC is BCCI's slaver and they will help IND to come final.

  • Sai on February 11, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Great to see Sri Lanka performing for once, and they really deserved to win this match, I feel. Angelo got them so close, and then he just couldn't finish the game off due to a lack of partners to bat with. I don't blame him though, for going for a six off the penultimate ball. If he had blocked that ball or let it go, then it would've been down to the final ball and anything could've happened. If SL lost then, then he would be criticized for not going for the six on the penultimate ball, and if he hit the six, then everyone would congratulate him. Such is cricket, and critics.

  • Dru on February 11, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    I cant believe some of you are suggesting Samaraweera - please wake up the guy is not on tour and was dropped after teh WC because he didnt work. SL are in rebuilding and playing another 35+ player lacks logic. MOM is a storm in a tea cup as is the umpires - the relevant point is Mahela's continued failure when it counts most. Starc to me looks a real danger bowler, tall left armer with pace and swing is about the ultimate nightmare and he is only getting started. Mathews was awesome and wonder if SL want to keep him as the finisher or give him the chance up the order - say to bat with Chandimal - he may flourish - certainly cant do worse than what Mahela is doing!!

  • Sarath on February 11, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    These elite umpires' Benefit of Doubts have always gone in favor for the countries where the strong Cricket Boards are, thus their positions in the Elite Panel are always safe. If this kind of decisions go against a powerful Cricketing Nation as in the case of Asoka de Silva & Daryl Harper, their lives as Elite Umpires would be very short. The UDRS with better technology would do a World of good for the Countries like SL, ZIM, B'desh.

  • Harry on February 11, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    @ the_blue_android Their element? Make sure you stay around when we wipe you and let's see your comments then. And stop eating those sour grapes!

  • Jawaid on February 11, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    Good show SL, you are comming close to be on the winning side, keep it up! Best wishes from a Pakistan cricket fan.

  • Heshan on February 11, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Ya we played well.but we have to finish the game well also.we must another solid batsmen also.if samaraweera hasn't selected as stand by player he is a must in this situation. This should be the team for the next match. 1.Mahela 2.Dilshan 3.Tharanga 4.Sanga 5.Matthews 7.Maharoof 8.Thisara 9.Kulasekara !0.Sachithra 11.Malinga

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