Revived Australia send series to third final
Two days after an embarrassing slip-up Andrew Symonds and Ricky Ponting led a stunning recovery to set an Australian-record total and push them to a series-deciding final in Brisbane on Tuesday. Australia slumped to 3 for 10 in the third over before Symonds muscled a brutal 151 and Ponting weaved a superb 124 that catapulted them to a barely believable 5 for 368 on the way to a 167-run win
Ponting's team entered the match needing victory to keep alive their record of not losing a VB finals series since 1992-93, and Ponting and Symonds ruled it out - at least in this match - by escaping from the early problems created by Chaminda Vaas with a 237-run stand, which was an Australian best for any wicket, that wooed a full SCG. The bowlers continued the demolition work under lights and the match ended with 14 overs to spare.
Nathan Bracken removed Sanath Jayasuriya in the second over and only bright bursts from Mahela Jayawardene, who picked up 50 from 48 balls, and Russel Arnold's 64 from 62 gave Sri Lanka a chance of knocking into a building run-rate that was never going to be achieved in the long term. Australia's slow bowlers Brad Hogg and Andrew Symonds stifled the chase with two wickets each and Bracken cleaned up with 4 for 30.
The response to the 22-run upset in Adelaide on Friday was a statement as forceful as any of Symonds's boundaries. "It's got to be one of the greatest comebacks and most dominating performances," Adam Gilchrist said after play and Ponting agreed. "It's one of the best batting displays you've ever seen," Ponting said. "Andrew Symonds played a very special innings and to post this score after being 3 for 10 was spectacular."
Symonds started slower than Ponting after arriving at the end of the third over, but when he warmed up they were collecting punishing boundaries like boys do coins and Sri Lanka were shocked by the reversal. A score of 300-plus was a certainty after 30 overs and with Symonds firing 151 from 127 balls they achieved it in the 46th, and went on to beat their previous best of 359 against India in the 2003 World Cup final and a VB Series match in 2003-04.
Ponting was the first to reach three figures, but his celebration for his 19th ODI hundred was low-key compared to Symonds, who marked his first in Australia with jumping, arm-waving and a beaming smile. He offered a tired encore at 150 when struck by painful cramps that forced him to wince, but they did not stop him reaching the rope and he stayed until trying a cheeky sweep off Vaas.
Surviving a protested low catch by Jayawardene at gully and a drop on 110, Ponting plundered nine fours and three sixes in his 127-balls innings and departed at 4 for 247. Ponting was strong off the back foot while Symonds was at his best with crisp driving. The aggressive outlook changed when he reached his century and he unleashed his all-round destruction in the final stages as he thundered his third fifty in 24 deliveries.
Muttiah Muralitharan was belted for 99 runs - the most expensive ODI figures in a ten-over spell - and he was driven for six over long-on by Symonds, who also launched him into the Members' Stand as part of his collection of 13 fours and three sixes. While Symonds created a ground-record score, Michael Clarke chipped in with a fierce 54 off 28 and Michael Hussey, who swept Muralitharan for a six in an over costing 21, crammed 23 from eight.
The innings also started in a hurry with Adam Gilchrist cutting Vaas's second ball of the match to gully and an over later Simon Katich was lbw and Damien Martyn was snapped up at slip by Jayawardene. Vaas's opening spell was astounding and he finished with 4 for 56, but he was let down by his partners, including Nuwan Kulasekara, who went for 41 in five overs before being subbed, and Ruchira Perera's 1 for 72. Marvan Atapattu rotated his bowlers regularly and delayed taking his second Powerplay until the 23rd over, but nothing could disrupt Australia's record revival.
Adam Gilchrist c Dilshan b Vaas 0 (1 for 0)
Sharp take to his right from short ball
Simon Katich lbw Vaas 1 (2 for 2)
Angled in and hitting middle
Damien Martyn c Jayawardene b Vaas 8 (3 for 10)
Glided to slip of back foot
Ricky Ponting c Vaas b Perera (4 for 247)
Drove high to deep mid-off
Andrew Symonds lbw Vaas 151 (5 for 320)
Trying a cute sweep
Sanath Jayasuriya c Lee b Bracken 0 (1 for 4)
Clipped to short fine leg
Kumar Sangakkara b Bracken 13 (2 for 26)
Charged down the pitch and ball hit off
Marvan Atapattu c Gilchrist b Clark 24 (3 for 74)
Down the pitch for thick edge
Mahela Jayawardene b Hogg 50 (4 for 116)
Under-edge to cut shot
Tillakaratne Dilshan c Ponting b Symonds 13 (5 for 139)
Hit hard to cover
Chamara Kapugedera run out 1 (6 for 145)
Sent back by Russell Arnold and well beaten by Clarke throw
Chaminda Vaas c Clarke b Hogg 0 (7 for 146)
Gentle push to first slip
Malinga Bandara c Clarke b Symonds 0 (8 for 147)
Holed out to long-on
Muttiah Muralitharan c Lewis b Bracken 27 (9 for 200)
Great diving catch behind square off top edge
Ruchira Perera c Ponting b Bracken 0 (201)
Skyed to cover