At Sydney, January 3-6, 2013. Australia won by five wickets. Toss: Australia.
Australia completed a 3-0 sweep in Mike Hussey's 79th and last Test, despite complicating the task with curious decisions at the selection table and the toss. The occasion was given a still greater sense of pathos by the death of Tony Greig the day after the Melbourne Test had ended. Greig's family and his ex-colleagues in the Channel Nine commentary box joined the teams for a moment's silence on the first morning, and many in the crowd wore his trademark wide-brimmed sunhat in homage.
Hussey had stunned his team-mates during the second Test when he informed them of his intention to quit international cricket, so his selection here felt odd, a chance missed to build for the future with the series won. Four seamers were picked on a pitch drier than it had appeared two days earlier, so a debut for the spin-bowling all-rounder Glenn Maxwell was deferred. Wade was promoted to No. 6, and Johnson to No. 7.
With the fast-bowling resources at his disposal, Clarke was obliged to bowl after winning the toss, and he was grateful for Bird's consistency as the rest strained for effect on an ideal day to bat. Jayawardene made his first half-century away from home since November 2009, while Thirimanne, in for the injured Kumar Sangakkara, showed promise and application. He was stopped short of a maiden century by Lyon's flight and a fine diving catch from Warner, while Starc's swerving yorker to Chandimal with the second new ball ensured the total would fall short of 300.
Hughes and Warner led Australia's reply with panache, after Cowan ran himself out - but the failure of either to go on to a century after a stand of 130 left Australia momentarily vulnerable. To the dismay of the crowd, Hussey became the fourth home batsman to be run out in the series, done in by his captain's optimistic call, and Clarke's own dismissal seven overs later gave Sri Lanka the chance to limit the lead. But Wade reprised his fine century against West Indies in Dominica the previous April, and guided Siddle and Bird in damaging partnerships. Bird faced only 11 balls while Wade streaked from 70 to his second Test hundred, reaching three figures with a crunching square-drive that left the deep fielders motionless. After he was dropped at fine leg two balls later, trying to hook Lakmal into the Victor Trumper Stand, Clarke declared.
Dilshan did not linger, before a century stand between Karunaratne and Jayawardene all but erased the deficit of 138. At 155 for two, Sri Lanka were almost on level terms, but a patch of brainless batting to rival the first-day meltdown at Melbourne tilted the match decisively towards Australia. Thirimanne hooked to fine leg, Samaraweera ran heedlessly down to Lyon and skied a catch, and Mathews was run out in a moment of confusion with Jayawardene, who then snicked a dejected drive at Siddle. Those four wickets for 23 meant Australia's chase would never be truly threatening, despite Chandimal's laudable efforts on the fourth morning and a surface by now taking plenty of turn.
Warner fell first ball as Australia set off in pursuit of 141, but Cowan dug in for more than two hours and Hussey was there at the end, although the crowd would have preferred him, rather than Johnson, to have hit the winning run. Clarke expressed mild satisfaction, and Jayawardene profound regret, while Hussey signed off happily from Test matches, passing the honour of singing the team victory song, Under the Southern Cross, to Lyon.
Man of the Match: J.M.Bird.
Man of the Series: M.J.Clarke.
Close of play: first day, Sri Lanka 294; second day, Australia 342-6 (Wade 47, Siddle 16); third day, Sri Lanka 225-7 (Chandimal 22, Herath 9).