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Peter English at the Gabba
February 14, 2006
Australia's VB Series success, which was sealed with a nine-wicket win in the third final at Gabba, was set up by the team's response to proving the doubters wrong. Mid-way through the series Adam Gilchrist's position at the top of the order was being heavily debated, the team was considered to be ignoring the current competition for next year's World Cup, and Simon Katich was being hassled out of the side.
Gilchrist and Katich both finished the tournament with centuries to secure their partnership on next week's tour of South Africa, and Australia responded from a shock loss in the opening final in Adelaide to crush Sri Lanka in the final two matches. "Half-way through the series people said I shouldn't be in the team, so to prove them wrong like this is very satisfying," Gilchrist said after his 91 balls of devastation.
Sri Lanka's target of 267 looked miniscule once Gilchrist, the Man of the Match, started to shower the ground, which was also being hit by empty cups from Mexican waves, with four sixes and 13 fours in his 122. "Tonight that was brilliant, I just loved it," he said.
"It was also good for Simon with the scrutiny he's been under. We've tried to stay positive and the team has dealt with a reasonable amount of criticism. People said we were focussing too much on the World Cup and not this series. Well, we've won it."
Ricky Ponting was also understandably cheery, and not just because he captured a brilliant one-handed leaping catch to remove Russel Arnold for 76. "We were made to look silly in Adelaide but since then our cricket has been unbelievably good," he said. "The individual efforts -Andrew Symonds in Sydney and Adam and Simon tonight - were very special and to come from 1-0 down and play our best cricket was very satisfying." The only thing discolouring the victory was a fine by Jeff Crowe, the ICC match referee, for finishing the first innings two overs behind schedule.
Despite losing the final two matches by 167 runs and nine wickets, Marvan Atapattu, the Sri Lanka captain, was pleased with the way his side had responded from poor one-day tours to India and New Zealand. "It was only a matter of time before things clicked," he said.
While Katich eased Australia home with 107 from 142 balls, it was Gilchrist's innings that stole the match from Sri Lanka. "We thought we were 15 to 20 runs short, not that it would have mattered to Gilchrist," Atapattu said. "When Gilchrist and Sanath Jayasuriya start hitting like that they take the game away from you just like that."
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