Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd ODI, Hambantota August 14, 2011

Ponting steers Australia to eight-wicket win


Australia 211 for 2 (Ponting 90*, Clarke 58*) beat Sri Lanka 208 (Sangakkara 52, Bollinger 3-35) by 8 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Perhaps Tillakaratne Dilshan should send Australia in next time. He needs to do something to shake his team out of its slumber after another professional performance from Australia, this time led by Doug Bollinger with the ball and Ricky Ponting with the bat, set up a comfortable eight-wicket win and a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

In Pallekele last Wednesday, Dilshan won the toss and chose to bat, and his men were bowled out for a sub-par total that the attack couldn't defend. The venue has changed but the result was exactly the same this time around, as he again chose to bat and the Sri Lankan top order again failed to build a target that would worry Michael Clarke's side. Australia were set 209 for victory, and they got there with 11.4 overs remaining.

The scorecard will show that Ponting finished unbeaten on 90, and it's true that it was a fine innings: he was calm, the bowlers' variations rarely troubled him, and he waited for the bad balls to put away. But he was rarely pressured by a lacklustre Sri Lanka. The fluttering of their shirts in oppressively windy conditions was about as animated as Sri Lanka's players got.

Lasith Malinga added a little spark to the attack in his return from a back injury, and when he splayed the stumps of Shane Watson with an excellent inswinging yorker, there was briefly a buzz around the ground. But the 94-run stand that Watson and Ponting had compiled meant Sri Lanka needed to spark a collapse to have any hope, and that didn't happen.

Ponting and Michael Clarke (58 not out) handled Malinga and Ajantha Mendis well, and were not troubled by the rest of the bowlers. Just as they did on Wednesday, both men posted half-centuries without too much drama on a good batting surface.

Apart from the early loss of the out-of-form Brad Haddin, who edged behind off Nuwan Kulasekara in the second over and was well taken by Kumar Sangakkara up to the stumps, Australia were in cruise control. Watson was uncharacteristically slow out of the blocks, but gradually found his touch, and a vicious pull for six off Rangana Herath was classic Watson.

Ponting drove the seamers confidently and swivelled a rank long hop from Kulasekara for six, and Clarke even cleared the boundary a couple of times in a classy display. But just as it had been in the series opener, Australia's win was set up by the bowlers, and by Clarke's impressive and aggressive captaincy.

Only Sangakkara's 52 and a late flourish from Kulasekara gave Sri Lanka any hope, and they must address their batting problems before the third match. In the first game, too many men threw their wickets away, perhaps still in Twenty20 mode, but in Hambantota they over-corrected. The Sri Lankan batsmen tried to stand firm but in the process forgot about scoring runs.

For much of the innings, the run-rate hovered below four, which can be sustained if wickets are in hand to launch a late attack. On the contrary, wickets were out of hand, as Bollinger and his colleagues maintained the pressure and kept making breakthroughs. The only half-century partnership was a 63-run stand between Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews, who did their best to rebuild after the side slipped to 77 for 4.

But when Sangakkara tried to lift the tempo with a slog over midwicket off David Hussey's offspin, all he could manage was a miscue that was caught on the long-on boundary. Earlier, Sangakkara had cleared the rope straight down the ground off Xavier Doherty, but it was Sri Lanka's first boundary in 16 overs, and that told the story.

After Sangakkara departed, Mathews tried to take charge but was caught at deep cover off Bollinger, who finished with 3 for 35 and showed impressive smarts as well as speed and bounce. He had already accounted for Dinesh Chandimal; a well-directed bouncer had Chandimal in all sorts of trouble as he tried to fend it down, and the next delivery was a good ball angled across the batsman, whose tentative prod resulted in an edge behind.

As had been the case on Wednesday, it was left to Kulasekara to provide some late runs. Too much had been left to the tail following the early dismissals of the top-order men. Sri Lanka needed a total in the region of 250, but things started to go wrong when the 37-run opening stand between Dilshan and Upul Tharanga ended.

The windy conditions meant it was important that Clarke chose the right ends for his bowlers, and the first breakthrough came when Brett Lee switched ends and bowled with the wind supporting his inswinger. In his first over of that spell, Lee got one to move in to Dilshan, who looked for an expansive drive but played the wrong line and was bowled for 24.

Mitchell Johnson got rid of the other opener, Tharanga, who tried to sway out of the way of a bouncer after a subdued innings, but gloved behind when the ball didn't rise quite as much as he expected. Mahela Jayawardene (17 off 30) was also in no hurry, before he fell to a top-edged sweep off Xavier Doherty. The slower bouncer accounted for Jeevan Mendis, who tried to hook and was caught off the bowling of Lee.

All in all, it was a disappointing batting effort from Sri Lanka. To bat first in consecutive games and be dismissed both times is a sign not just of good bowling from Australia, but a poor Sri Lankan mindset. Dilshan needs to find some way to lift his team before Tuesday, or this series could be over before the teams even get to Colombo.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on August 17, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    I noted in a previous blog @Dravid_Gravitas,that you took a very meritorious position on the capacity of IPL to help improve the conditions of the supporting cast,such as street vendors in India.I believe you felt that the moral position imbued by the wealth creation possibilities of IPL would even exceed,if necessary,the continued existence of test cricket.I admire your sense of ethics and like you,deplore injustice and poverty.However,i think that we are both aware that the notional attatchment of IPL to commercial venture is subsidiary to the cricket itself and that the same premise would apply to any symbiotic business run along those lines.The circumstance you describe is cultural and historical-it exists on caste lines and disparate divisions of wealth.Its resolution is with the Indian people,not crickets franchising.When the structures and rules governing a historical and ethical behemoth like test cricket,become open to outside forces of negotiation,then it signals their demise

  • Dummy4 on August 16, 2011, 10:41 GMT

    @ Ameega.... Yes, I agree that SL played better than India in ENG..... It happens brother any team can't win all the time, can't perform in the same manner all the time.... My concern was we should not make fun of any team or put bad comments for other teams if sometime they don't perform according to their reputation... we won last series in Eng.... This time we lost... it happens in cricket..... We should appreciate better cricket and better playing nation without putting bad comments for the team which lost..... This thing is mutual....... So, raise your hands for better comments! Wishing good luck to Team Srilanka..... Thanks....

  • Sakthi on August 16, 2011, 8:17 GMT

    @ Ameega : You have good spirit mate. But Im a hardcore cricket fan and love Crushing wins. I do look for 4-0 Whitewash.

  • Sirsak on August 16, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    in order to win the third odi srilanka should field first i think.

  • DINESH on August 16, 2011, 5:17 GMT


  • Amal on August 16, 2011, 3:39 GMT

    @ Sakthivel; I won't let myself down by saying something like "Go Eng go... Like to see 4 - 0...". As a SL fan, I love to see Indians bounce back in 4th Test and give a fightback. @ Prashant Sandilya Mishra:If you really want to compare SL & Ind, just see statistics of two series of each team in Eng just apart of a month or so. (however I am really embarrased by the performance of SL in ENG). SL fans really enjoy good cricket and respect opponents even though loose. Just watch highlights back to see how SL spectators did entertain until the end during two lost games.

  • Andrew on August 16, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    @ obama007 - that's the spirit! Hope you're wrong though!

  • Srinivas on August 16, 2011, 3:15 GMT

    Can there be a more exciting site than Australia getting hold of their bearings and displaying top notch cricket? I hope they play like this for long time. As a test cricket fan, I will be very disappointed if Aussies struggle. Kudos to Ponting, The Legend. What a player! What a Legend that he sacrifised so much of his batting for the sake of his country.

  • Sridhar on August 16, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    Its heartening to see the way the Aussies have played. As a Cricket Fan, I would like the Aussie team to find the right balance and find its grove so that they could bring back the faith in Aussie supporters.I believe the Australian Management has planned for their future, unlike the BCCI, and they would slowly but surely reap the benefits in the coming future. This display would give heart to all the efforts they are trying to put, in building a stronger team for the upcoming series and World Cup. I wish BCCI would try to learn a few tricks from the Aussies and try to plan for Indias future.

  • Sirsak on August 16, 2011, 1:43 GMT

    i have full ability in my team that we can win the remaiing 3 matches.and win the series 3-2.go srilanka.

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