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
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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

  • POSTED BY Lakpj 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.

  • POSTED BY Nerk 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.

  • POSTED BY MH19 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY Adsum9936 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

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 19:10 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY jerome3002 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY FR3AKX 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.

  • POSTED BY Lakpj 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.

  • POSTED BY Nerk 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.

  • POSTED BY MH19 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY Adsum9936 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

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 19:10 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY jerome3002 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY 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.

  • POSTED BY FR3AKX 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.

  • POSTED BY lankavigi on | March 5, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    Whats up with SL and finals. They play their best cricket and somehow lose it somewhere in the final. The 2007 world cup final, 2 cb series final, t20final, t20 semi final, 2011 world cup final and now the 2012 cb series finals. I just hope SL can win this. If they can reach the finals, then they are good. But as what many say, you have to come 1st to be recognised great. The team which the wins the cup overshadows the greatness of the team that finishes as runner-ups. Just imagine if SL had won all those tournaments since 2006, they wud definitely be the world champions. Jayawardene hit the nail by saying that you have to win for it to be a great series. They've got to win this and change their tradition from being runner-ups to champs.

  • POSTED BY Master_Mihil on | March 5, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    In the last match i saw pup doing some cat like gesture and i've seen it couple of times in close matches with SL. Is he doing it always just when under pressure? Aussie fans help here........

  • POSTED BY Ajithd on | March 5, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    True, lions have got injuries, in last two hardly fought games. But SL fans would admire you for keeping the spirited conditions win or loose. Though we have badly hurt by two quality players ( Mathews and Thisara), they will again make a big show at Adelade. But give chance to Prasad in place of half fit Maharoof.

  • POSTED BY chatg on | March 5, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    @iraj17: itz not we treat u badly. We also like 2 see a tamil guy in our team like Murali. There is no favour to any 1. I dont know but am asking u any tamilnadu boy in Indian team? we have muslims/sinhalese/catholics etc. in this current 11. We all are Sri lankans. Even though you don't like us.....

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    I wish to bring out some simple facts. Had Mahela being wise enough to use more of spin effectively we wlould have been in the position of Aussies right now. In last match aganist India even when our pacemen were getting hammered in a 40 over contest Hearth was introduced only in the 20th over and ended up bowling only 4 overs for 20 runs. Very creditable figures under the cicrumstances. Then at Gabba Hearth was brought on as late as in the 26th over. Herath and Dilshan together sent down 16 overs for only 71 runs. Still 4 overs short. If those 4 overs were from spinners Aussie score would have been around 300 that means chaseable without taking undue risks. Because we lost India match we had to go all out to win against Aussies the final league match. The physical and psycological impact of that would have taken a heavy toll on the players and might have even contributed to injuries. Instead we would have comfortably used last game for match practice in a relaxed mood ahead of finals

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    @Cricmerk7---- Fighting till end! come on where was your fighting spirits went when you were thrashed left, right and center by Indian batsmen in our last league match? Your fighters could not defend 321 runs and could not avoid us getting bonus point! Your run chase was in dire states until Kulashekara swung his bat desperately and by luck shots were getting connected. Otherwise your big guns were in hut before even reaching half way mark of run chase. Don't get confused with issues, it was only desperate swing of bat with some luck by your tailenders, and now whole Sri Lanka is boasting it as fighting.

  • POSTED BY SachinIsAGoner on | March 5, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    Cricinfo, i can understand your sentiments and desperacy for SL (asian team) to win and Aus to lose. But, Aussies are the deserving winners and they will win 2-0 easily. Sl are better runners.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    legs are tired, shoulders are heavy. Steps that we passed are honorable but yet it incomplete. Lets put behind our physical limitations. Cause there are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

    Lets hope we able to cross all those hurdles tomorrow at Adelades !!

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    kudos, here the equation is very simple. two straight wins in conditions which supports our attack.surely we have come a way to a point may be the best out of Asia. on top of anything team spirit may be at the best . if you will analyse from first game each member played in games performed to their best. at different matches different players highlighted as it was needed. but at this stage as this is the best time, we need something special.This should have to come from top. another big inning from Mahela would do for me as semis against New Zealanders in 2007 world cup.surely we should make it easily at tomorrow match. then the big game on Friday.Men you did it is more than we dreamed. need to keep it until next friday. i don't think any more big blows from any australians. but be ready for plan to tackle Dorethy & wotson.all the best friends . even all the gods looks after this country will applaud & keep you strong when you are playing like this :)

  • POSTED BY cricmerc7 on | March 5, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    @Fast_Track_Bully... Sorry dood. But we are different, we fight till the end. We may loose, but SL will assure you a fight till the end. So don't worry about them.

  • POSTED BY Isra on | March 5, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    win or loos, we are happy to watch lions perfomance, hart fighter always....

  • POSTED BY Kays789 on | March 5, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    imagine if the indians had to go through the same schedule? oh wow! a million and one excuses!

  • POSTED BY sampathsl on | March 5, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    SL will do everything to defeat AUS.20 Million behind you.good Luck SL !!

  • POSTED BY doncl on | March 5, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    As a die hard SL fan, I am praying for a SL win. Even if we win the Asia cup, it won't be as good as the CB series. I am a bit too worried about our team's performance in the last 5 or 6 finals that we played. We do well to get into the finals then tend to loose it. I agree they are not in the best of shapes with all injuries, but mind you we only lost Perera and Angelo in the last game. And they are big players, but the top batting order was not changed. I think they should have done a better job.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    @Fast_Track_Bully: It does not matter whether we win it or not. From where we were since April 2011, we have already over-achieved in Australia. Furthermore, we are one of the two best teams in the CB series. There were also rans who did not know what winning was all about. If SL has spent the time that India spent in Australia, they wud have steam rolled the two teams!!!lol!!!!!

  • POSTED BY srinideva on | March 5, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    here we go guys, they already making excuses for the loss...keep it up sl. You have no rights to comment india. This nation is far bigger than you expect. There is lot of pressure on the players to perform...but sl i don't have to say about srilanka.every one knows what is the status of yours. We proud to be AN INDIAN.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    Few Indians fans are hanging around acting spoil sport. Obviously they miss the flight to Mumbai. srinideva we saw how your team failed for 3months. Your team is an one hit wonder. I can't remember Indian team wining a tournament outside India in the last 3-4 years.

  • POSTED BY NALINWIJ on | March 5, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    Win or lose Sri Lanka has made the tri-series the best tri-series ever. There can be no better advertisement for their tour next season.Those who are writing off the crowds to next year boxing day test you are in for a big surprise.

  • POSTED BY iraj17 on | March 5, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    @ Erantha Perera - i was born in srilanka, but i support india. you should know why i support india bcoz i'am tamil. why srilankan cricket don't pick tamil players (such as murali)!!!! But srilanka is good team

  • POSTED BY Fast_Track_Bully on | March 5, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    SL will lost this one too as the players are desperately looking to fly back home ASAP!

  • POSTED BY Mr.Khb on | March 5, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    As I feel Its hard for SL team to play 5 games straight in 10 nights and even not in a 1 stadium also. But we all can see their spirit is high and its good to see young guys are coming forward and showing some talent. And as a SL fans we are with the no matter what hapannes in next two games.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | March 5, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Tough tour schedule for SL?... Sure but the same for Oz... SL :- "If they are to win the tournament, they will have played five in 10, plus three flights"... Oz already played 4 games in 9 days plus 4 flights with a possible 6 in 12, plus 5 flights... Also SL have no pressure to win while Oz team are expected to win in Oz - even if they aren't the favorites... All teams had a tough schedule no matter who got into the finals...

  • POSTED BY srinideva on | March 5, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    2-0 Make it guys

    Go aussie GO...1 billion behind you....

  • POSTED BY Aussasinator on | March 5, 2012, 11:02 GMT

    Schedule has been designed to favour the Australians. The Board of Sri Lanka has to do some introspection. Australia was lucky to narrowly win the first final due to an injury hit Lanka. I thought the Aussie bowlers got battered by many Lankan batsmen, though only Warner hammered the Sri Lankan bowlers. Sri Lanka is by a long distance, the best team in this Tri Series.

  • POSTED BY Balumekka on | March 5, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    I love Sri Lanka's attitude. Fight till the very end, no post match lists of excuses at defeats, taking only the positives from the lost matches!

  • POSTED BY sl_cricfan on | March 5, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    It shows the other side of the cricketers... the physical battering they go through... It has been a very tight schedule for the lankans... and it's hardly over....

  • POSTED BY Happy_AusBang on | March 5, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    I can't understand why they agreed to such a schedule? And it is unfair on the part of the organisers to have a schedule which disadvantages one side so badly. It is good to see that Mahela is not making excuses. If they can tighten up their death bowling a little bit then they will have the upper hand as I think the Australian batting is still not solid.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    Win or loose I feel they are playing like the Windies in the 70s in down under. Unfortunately the Australian spectators are missing a lot by not crowding to the stadiums. I feel Sri Lanka now has the best up and coming team. Only 3 seniors, ie Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan. We have good backups for them too. Obviously Angelo, Dinesh and Thirimanne will be the new top batting trio. Dimuth, Angelo (Perera) and Bueneka been groomed as the next trio. So six batters in line. Bowling SL have the young fast men for another decade. Spinners we need to unearth. If MAhela can groom Mathews and sharpen his captaincy / people skills then we will be one of the best.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    thanx Sidharth Monga a good article about spirited lankans !

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  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    thanx Sidharth Monga a good article about spirited lankans !

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    Win or loose I feel they are playing like the Windies in the 70s in down under. Unfortunately the Australian spectators are missing a lot by not crowding to the stadiums. I feel Sri Lanka now has the best up and coming team. Only 3 seniors, ie Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan. We have good backups for them too. Obviously Angelo, Dinesh and Thirimanne will be the new top batting trio. Dimuth, Angelo (Perera) and Bueneka been groomed as the next trio. So six batters in line. Bowling SL have the young fast men for another decade. Spinners we need to unearth. If MAhela can groom Mathews and sharpen his captaincy / people skills then we will be one of the best.

  • POSTED BY Happy_AusBang on | March 5, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    I can't understand why they agreed to such a schedule? And it is unfair on the part of the organisers to have a schedule which disadvantages one side so badly. It is good to see that Mahela is not making excuses. If they can tighten up their death bowling a little bit then they will have the upper hand as I think the Australian batting is still not solid.

  • POSTED BY sl_cricfan on | March 5, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    It shows the other side of the cricketers... the physical battering they go through... It has been a very tight schedule for the lankans... and it's hardly over....

  • POSTED BY Balumekka on | March 5, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    I love Sri Lanka's attitude. Fight till the very end, no post match lists of excuses at defeats, taking only the positives from the lost matches!

  • POSTED BY Aussasinator on | March 5, 2012, 11:02 GMT

    Schedule has been designed to favour the Australians. The Board of Sri Lanka has to do some introspection. Australia was lucky to narrowly win the first final due to an injury hit Lanka. I thought the Aussie bowlers got battered by many Lankan batsmen, though only Warner hammered the Sri Lankan bowlers. Sri Lanka is by a long distance, the best team in this Tri Series.

  • POSTED BY srinideva on | March 5, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    2-0 Make it guys

    Go aussie GO...1 billion behind you....

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | March 5, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Tough tour schedule for SL?... Sure but the same for Oz... SL :- "If they are to win the tournament, they will have played five in 10, plus three flights"... Oz already played 4 games in 9 days plus 4 flights with a possible 6 in 12, plus 5 flights... Also SL have no pressure to win while Oz team are expected to win in Oz - even if they aren't the favorites... All teams had a tough schedule no matter who got into the finals...

  • POSTED BY Mr.Khb on | March 5, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    As I feel Its hard for SL team to play 5 games straight in 10 nights and even not in a 1 stadium also. But we all can see their spirit is high and its good to see young guys are coming forward and showing some talent. And as a SL fans we are with the no matter what hapannes in next two games.

  • POSTED BY Fast_Track_Bully on | March 5, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    SL will lost this one too as the players are desperately looking to fly back home ASAP!