Australia 102 for 0 (Hayden 58*, Gilchrist 31* ) beat Sri Lanka 101 (Clark 4-20) by ten wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Adam Gilchrist decided to stick Sri Lanka in to take advantage of any lingering moisture - this was an almost unreasonably early start to meet the demands of TV - and the move paid off handsomely. The toss was important, but Sri Lanka contributed significantly to their own downfall.
Although Australia bowled and fielded superbly, much of the blame must rest on Sri Lanka's batsmen who approached the match with a naivety that almost suggested they had never played a Twenty20 game. In the main, they perished playing ugly heaves and mows. The format calls for big hitting - Sri Lanka decided to go for reckless slogging.
They lost Sanath Jayasuriya, their top-order talisman, to the third ball of the innings from Brett Lee, a slightly dubious leg-before decision which might have partially resulted from another close call when he was rapped on the pads the previous ball. What followed was horrible.
Upal Tharanga swung and was caught in the deep, and Mahela Jayawardene got a leading edge attempting a swish to midwicket. Sixteen balls into their innings and Sri Lanka were 11 for 3. It should have been worse four balls later, but Brad Hodge mistimed a leap at mid-on and dropped Kumar Sangakkara. One ball later, Chamara Silva took a run to Andrew Symonds in the covers and would have perished had a diving underarm throw hit the stumps. It was almost lemming-like.
And Sri Lanka didn't learn. Their batsmen resembled windmills as they swished and missed with alarming regularity. Silva finally connected but a thick edge flew to Brett Lee at third man, and when Tillakaratne Dilshan stepped to the off and paddled Stuart Clark, the pick of the bowlers, straight to Gilchrist behind the stumps, Sri Lanka were 28 for 5.
It was only when Chaminda Vaas and Jehan Mubarak came together in a seventh-wicket stand of 40 that a semblance of common sense was restored, but the horse had long since bolted. Even Australia appeared to take their foot off the accelerator, content to allow singles at will while never letting the batsmen off the leash.
The only blemish for Australia came when Shane Watson, who had bowled neatly in his first three overs, pulled up clutching his hamstring as Lasith Malinga swung the first six of the innings in the 18th over. The injury-prone Watson immediately hobbled off for another visit to a man he knows so well, the team physio.
Chasing a small target, Australia could have cruised, but that's not their style. Matthew Hayden and Gilchrist showed the value of playing correctly, hitting the ball straight and hard. In so doing they clinically shredded the bowling and emphasised how wrong Sri Lanka's approach with the bat had been.
The pair started sedately before opening up, Hayden his typical bullying self, hitting the bulk of his boundaries in the V with brutal power. Two strikes off Maharoof, the second of which disappeared over long-off, underlined what an awesome force he remains. Gilchrist was not outshone, using the pace of the ball and picking gaps with precision.
Hayden brought up his fifty off 34 balls and then finished the match with a shot as vast as the victory itself, the ball disappearing out of the ground. By then Sri Lanka were a broken side.
Sri Lanka vs Australia
ICC World Twenty20
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo