Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series 3rd final, Adelaide March 8, 2012

McKay five-for delivers title


Australia 231 (Wade 49, Warner 48, Herath 3-36, Maharoof 3-40) beat Sri Lanka 215 (Tharanga 71, McKay 5-28) by 16 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Unwavering spells from Clint McKay and the stand-in captain Shane Watson delivered the triangular series trophy to Australia in a fittingly tense third final against a doughty Sri Lanka at Adelaide Oval.

As the injured captain Michael Clarke watched intently from the boundary's edge, Brett Lee and McKay nipped out Sri Lanka's top four batsmen inside the first 10 overs, after the visitors had threatened to repeat the runaway start they had made in Tuesday's second match.

Upul Tharanga and Lahiru Thirimanne threatened a recovery, but Watson was stinginess itself in the middle overs and McKay returned to help round up the Sri Lankans 16 runs short, the fitting final chapter of a compelling limited-overs tournament. The visitors' contribution to the summer was underlined by Tillakaratne Dilshan's selection as player of the series.

McKay's figures were his best in international cricket, and followed a critical 28 at the tail-end of Australia's innings. Watson will now take a weary but happy team to the West Indies for the ODI portion of the tour, having delivered the first triangular series contested in Australia since 2008.

Australia's fielding and bowling effort was its best for some weeks, and needed to be after the batsmen had cobbled only 231 on a slowing pitch. Led adroitly in the field by Mahela Jayawardene, the visitors had not been perturbed by an opening stand of 75 at better than five runs an over between David Warner and Matthew Wade, and chipped away diligently at the hosts with a combination of spin and reverse swing. No Australian batsman passed 50 as they were bowled out in the final over.

Rangana Herath and Farveez Maharoof shared six wickets, while Nuwan Kulasekara also contributed to a tidy ensemble, of which only Lasith Malinga struggled to contain.

Herath bowled his best and most incisive spell of the tournament to return 3-36, helped by the use of the same pitch that had hosted Tuesday's second final. As he had done in that match, Dilshan took the new ball and bowled his overs with thrift and direction.

Taking Sri Lanka's lead, Watson opened up with the spin of Xavier Doherty at the other end to Lee, but the initial gambit did not work. Dilshan and Jayawardene capitalised on Doherty's errors of line and length, collecting four boundaries from his first two overs as they swept to 0 for 33 from the first four overs.

Lee was also slipping in a final effort for the home summer, and he gained a critical break when Dilshan tried to work a lifting delivery to the leg side and managed only to loop a catch to cover from the front-edge of his bat. Kumar Sangakkara looked in truly sparkling touch upon his arrival, and had sprinted to 19 from eight balls when Lee coaxed an edge from his ninth - the high chance very well held by Watson.

McKay had replaced Doherty, and was soon settled into a precise spell that exploited the vagaries of a wearing surface to the maximum. Dinesh Chandimal was pinned lbw by a delivery that whirred in at middle stump, before Jayawardene was undone by another that seamed back just enough to beat his forward press and graze off stump.

Extremely unsteady at 4 for 53, Thirimanne and Tharanga fought to keep the chase afloat, but the caution forced by the loss of early wickets forced the required rate back up into awkward territory against the older ball. Watson, Nathan Lyon and Daniel Christian bowled intelligently without a wicket, as the match and series edged towards a nervous finish.

Thirimanne had added 60 with Tharanga and the Australians had grown tense by the time Watson found a way to eke out a wicket. Angling across Thirimanne, he coaxed a sliced drive that flew low into Warner's safe hands at backward point. Kapugedera could manage only 7 before he edged another McKay delivery, the deflection held by a diving Wade.

Kulasekara threatened a repeat of his Gabba heroics, cracking two boundaries in a brief stay, before Lee followed the batsman's retreat outside leg stump to cramp his room and prompt a catch to mid-on. Maharoof had been held back to No. 9, and he would provide a calming presence alongside Tharanga as the target was whittled down.

Watson had led his side well in testing circumstances, but he perhaps erred in his judgement to let Sri Lanka sneak closer. Having bowled five searching overs for only eight runs, Watson nonetheless preferred two overs of Doherty's spin, costing 16 runs. By the time he recalled himself to the attack, Watson had only 30 runs to defend from the final five overs.

This all made Watson's sixth over, the 46th of the innings, crucial. He responded in the best possible fashion, conceding only two runs and finding Tharanga's outside edge. Next over McKay found a way through Herath, and 17 were still required when he yorked Malinga.

In the afternoon, Warner and Wade were conscious of the need for greater impetus at the top of the innings and played their shots early on, though taking more liberties against the pacemen than Dilshan's part-time spin.

Warner cleared the boundary once and looked rather more fluent than he had during most of his century on Tuesday, but on 48 he edged a bouncing delivery from Maharoof to Kumar Sangakkara.

Wade had been struggling physically, vomiting at one point in what appeared an attack of gastro, but it was a surprise when a punchy Watson picked out Herath on the leg-side boundary off Dilshan's bowling, the fielder clasping the sharp chance to his chest.

Michael Hussey's stay was brief, Dilshan's swift gather and throw from short third man finding him short of his ground after he had called Wade through for a single. Sri Lanka's sense of momentum only grew when Wade's dogged stay was ended by Herath, who coaxed an edge that Sangakkara held with a juggle.

Forrest could make only 3 before misreading Herath's length and being bowled by a delivery that straightened just enough to beat his defensive blade and flick off stump. David Hussey was given lbw to a ball that would have passed over the top of the stumps, while Christian was undone by a Maharoof slower ball that he could only punch to mid off.

McKay and Lee did their best to swell the total in the closing overs, and their contributions were ultimately vital to a fighting victory.

Edited by Siddarth Ravindran

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rock on March 11, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    @Meety .. All the cricket historians know it is only India who have challenged Aus both at home and away. All your replies seem to be funny and only self satisfactory for yourself. Minnows ? so why play cricket . So all the previous results of SL wont count u mean lolllllll

  • Randolph on March 11, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    I think this Summer has seriously proven beyond doubt that India need to give up cricket and try something else like Soccer. Sri Lanka have proven far, far, far better opponents and real team players. SL now one of the top 4 nations in cricket along with Aus, SA and Pakistan.

  • Andrew on March 11, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    @rock.rockyin- SL were minnows until the 90s, so I hardly think this is a fair or appropriate of who is a better cricket nation. The fact is, outside the ONE Indian ODI trophy in Oz, I witnessed numerous occassions in the past where India were absolutely belted by all & sundry in this country. Factor in an extra 60yrs of FC cricket for India & the small matter of well over a billion people, I think SL can rightly feel proud of their achievement this summer. @onlyIndiathebest - well if SL qualified & India didn't what does that say about India who have arguably their greatest ODI side at present? The reality is, when you lose, it is so much better if you praise your opponents. Sorry to say, India have not been up to scratch all summer. A tri-series containing Oz, SL & NZ MAY of provided better competition. LOL - just kidding!

  • Mit on March 11, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    My honest opinion is that though Srilanka plays well but it seems now they r the new chokers in town.....yes SA had done this so many times after winning league games and losing just when trophy is in their sight........ lately Srilanka r proving way ahead of Proteas ..... lets just have look at few MAJOR tournaments.

    ICCWorld cup 2007 final T20world cup 2009 final Asia cup 2010 final ICCworld cup 2011 final just CB series 2012 finals

    as i said they r playing good but recently failing in SO many finals.

  • Vince on March 11, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    @onlyIndiathebest A couple of corrections needed here---I meant that India were not good enough to be in the finals despite a scintillating batting performance on an ultra flat Hobart wicket against SRI LANKA, not Australia. and secondly that India, over the entire history of cricket, are not the best, certainly with their persistent incapability of winning AWAY FROM HOME, in contrast to Australia who repeatedly win away from home. India has never won a test series in Australia for example, and Australia have won in India at least twice, namely 1969 and 2004. As well, Australia have won test series in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while these sides have never won a test series in Australia.

  • Vince on March 10, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    @onlyIndiathebest --nobody but absolutely nobody has the God given right to be automatically placed in the finals, every team, no exceptions, especially this persistently under performing Indian side, has to earn that right to be in the finals. India were not good enough despite a scintillating batting performance on an ultra flat Hobart wicket against Australia.Overall, India had to pay the price for their inconsistency.Your arrogance reminds me of the Uruguayan soccer side in 2006, who just before playing the Socceroos in the 2006 world cup qualifier in Australia, with inexorable arrogance, claimed that a place for them in the 2006 Soccer World Cup was their God given right. Justly, they were rewarded for their arrogance with a loss in a penalty shoot out, and thus no place in the 2006 soccer world cup. As well, India, over the entire history of cricket, are not the best, certainly with their persistent incapability of winning at home, in contrast to Aust who win repeatedly away.

  • rock on March 10, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    @Valavan You have missed 1984-85 and 1998-99. Please mate end it here I cant correct you for number of days here. As I told YOU cannot change history. (Duration - Winner , Runner Up, Third Place),(1984-85 West Indies, Australia, Sri Lanka),(1987-88 Australia,New Zealand,Sri Lanka),(1989-90 Australia,Pakistan,Sri Lanka),(1995-96 Australia,Sri Lanka,West Indies),(1998-99 Australia,England,Sri Lanka),(2002-03 Australia,England,Sri Lanka),(2005-06 Australia,Sri Lanka,South Africa),(2007-08 India,Australia, Sri Lanka),(2011-12 Australia ,Sri Lanka,India). No one has hit back at me. I am giving you facts which happened. If you are not happy with history. Live in Present. The bottom line is One bad year for India doesnt take anything away from what they acheived ever since this Trination series has started and what their counterpart couldnt acheive even though they performed good this season and appeared more number of times . This sums up who is better.

  • Sarath on March 10, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    MOST WICKETS PLAYER # RUNS GIVEN# WKTS # AVE # SR SMSM Senanayake (SL) # 125 # 3 # 41.66 # 52.00 HMRKB Herath (SL) # 282 # 4 # 70.50 # 93.00 TM Dilshan (SL) # 111 # 1 # 111.00 # 156.00 Stats courtesy

  • Sarath on March 10, 2012, 4:50 GMT

    These s'ctors of last 20 years 've always preffered reckless, risky stroke makers of fragile technique to quality batters like S'weera or Dravid for that matter, at times there wasn't a single player the class of S'weera in the Team. If Dravid was a SLan, he would have b'n treated in the same manner they 've treated S'weera & Atapatu. They are somewhat wary about the importance of controlled hitting ability of a batter but value a batsman that would score a double century 1 out of 10 times, offering 101 chances, than a skilful batters that can score chance-less 50 almost every visit to the wicket. By the way neither K'gedara nor H'rath has done any notable performances at domestic level to be included in the Side. H'rath is a spinner that can't spin nor extract bounce of the pitch without the help of bowlers' foot-holds on the pitch. It is clearly proven by him, as indicated in the undermentioned stats of CB series 2012 just before the 3rd final. (to be CNTD)

  • Andrew on March 9, 2012, 21:24 GMT

    @popcorn - would of been a perfect summer had it not been that Hobart incident involving about 11 flightless birds from across the ditch! @rock.rockyin - past glories account for less over time. == == == Anyways, I am glad the season is over, can know switch into football watching mode properly. The ODIs was a top series, India sis play better with a bit of youth in the side, SL came close to winning the series, & a disjointed Oz side did well against good opposition.

  • No featured comments at the moment.