Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series 2nd final, Adelaide March 5, 2012

Battered Sri Lanka up for another fight

Three matches in six days and a host of injuries haven't daunted Mahela Jayawardene's men

It's 7.30 in the morning. Sri Lanka have finished their third match in six nights only hours ago. They are back up again, in team casuals, grey polos and jeans. They are at the Brisbane airport already, ready to fly to Adelaide to play their fourth game in eight days. If they are to win the tournament, they will have played five in 10, plus three flights.

At the airport Sri Lanka are not groggy, but they are walking wounded. One of the three allrounders instrumental to their success so far, Thisara Perera, has already gone back home with injury. Angelo Mathews, fighting a calf injury, is carrying a guitar, as is the bowling coach, Champaka Ramanayake. Gingerly follows Farveez Maharoof, who beat back trouble to play in the first final.

Nuwan Kulasekara and Dhammika Prasad, the two men who hours ago nearly pulled off a heady heist, look tired, though. Their right hands are bandaged, both injured while trying to field off their own bowling. We talk a lot about wanting something badly enough, and Sri Lanka obviously do, but this is going to become an outright physical challenge too.

In such gruelling circumstances, one man you love to have on your side is Lasith Malinga, but he has had a funny old tournament. He bowls exceptionally one day, erratically the other. In two of his last three games, Malinga has bowled 15.3 overs for 170 runs. In the middle game he chipped in with 4 for 49. Sri Lanka won the middle game, and lost the other two. Australia is a test of conditions for Malinga: the outfields are lush, two new balls are being used, which makes it tough to reverse-swing the ball.

Mahela Jayawardene is not panicking. His trust in his main man is much more than what a couple of bad games can erode. "Not really [worried]," Jayawardene said. "When you have quality opposition like that, they do get away from you. This is the first time the Australians did that. India did it once in the whole series. It's not a big issue. We have to make sure that when we are faced with another situation like that, we have to handle it much better than we did today.

"I felt that we gave them the momentum up front, that's an area we definitely need to improve." Jayawardene was prepared to make allowance for the wet conditions too. "It was tough with the ball getting wet," Jayawardene said. "It was slippery. So it was tough for him to get it right. I think in Hobart (7.4 overs for 96 against India) the accuracy wasn't probably there. When you have Lasith who has done it for six years and you have two-three games off once in a while, I am quite happy. It is tough.

"The Aussie bowlers also struggled to hit the yorkers. It's all about the challenges of improving. Lasith will learn to do that with two new balls. It's a factor, it's not reversing too much. I think he has come up with a lot of different things down the years so he will come up with a better option, and try and pick up wickets up front and put pressure at the end."

Sri Lanka have played some real good cricket on this tour, which came on the back of a tough South Africa tour. The off-field distractions they have had to fight hardly need documenting. Jayawardene is a proud captain because of that, but he knows it won't amount to much if they don't win the next two games. "Well cricket wise, yes we have been very consistent, but it doesn't become a great series unless we win it," Jayawardene said when asked if this was the best ODI cricket they had played in Australia. "Yeah we have played some really good cricket, consistent cricket, but we need to finish the job. We will try and do that."

At such points, when you are all exhausted, sometimes you need one of the big players to make it easy for the rest. The situation is calling for one or more of Malinga, Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan to set up a relatively easy win.

Edited by Siddarth Ravindran

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lakpriya on March 6, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    Clerke gets pretty annoyed when things start to go wrong. When couple of 6s get hit he starts biting nails and becomes like a cat under a hot tin roof. And shows his emotions to the rest on the field. Not a good sign for a captain to have.

  • Simon on March 6, 2012, 1:43 GMT

    The spirit shown by SL is tremendous. They came to this series from a hard tour of SA, and had one or two warm ups. They were a bit rusty to start with, but once they were warm they soon got hot, and have been the bogey team of Australia through the series. They have lighted up this series, and only a fool would write them off in the second final.

  • Manoj on March 5, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    We are badly affected by Mathews and Thisara Perera however they have brought us to this stage with heaps of contribution and now the bench should put their hands up and must come with a match winning performance supporting others.I am 200% confident that we will come victorious in Adelaide and will keep the SL flag flying.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2012, 22:16 GMT

    Mr Iraj17,Angelo Mathews is Tamil and he is tipped to be the next captain.Your comments doesn't make any sense.If our nothern boys decided to play cricket instead of blowing them apart ,you would have seen few others too as well.Hopefully things will be different in future and all the best for tommorow's match.

  • Ashutosh on March 5, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    What my gut feelings tell that aus probably loose tomorrow in order to make some more money for last match

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    @Chethan Things like that happen in cricket.Remember Malinga&Mathews,Murali's innings vs Bangladesh?

  • Jerome on March 5, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    With regard to chethan Puttaiah comments , Well why do u wait till the last game(decider) to gain bonus points. If the indian team really needed to book a place , they should have come with a game plan for the CB series and not waiting for other team mistakes to gain a place. Don't worry 2nd match Sri lanka will bounce back and keep the CB series Alive.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    Iraj17, Sri Lanka's next world cup winning captain will be a Tamil. He had an average of over 90 in the recent aussy test series. Man know what you are talking. But let's support our country, Love and regards where ever you are.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2012, 18:28 GMT

    I very much sure..Lion will come back..does not matter win or loose...we show lots of prudential and keep it up.

  • akshay on March 5, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    FYI for few SL supporters... India won the last CB series in Australia (2-0) so stop degrading other teams and support your's.. To be honest, I'm myself rooting for SL to win the next 2 matches since they showed good character in first final and we're always good neighbours so I'm sure most Indians are doing the same.

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