Tillakaratne Dilshan and Captain Mahela Jaywardene kept Sri Lanka’s hopes of becoming Commonwealth Bank series champions alive as they pummeled Australia in the second final at Adelaide.
Dilshan and Jayawardene were made to showcase all their talent to tie the final series 1-1, after a nail-biting first final which saw them fall just short of, what would have been, an amazing come from behind victory.
Dilshan, who received the Man of the Match award for his 106 run batting display and for picking up a vital wicket, said: “I’m really enjoying my batsman at the moment … It doesn’t matter I’m captain or not …if the ball is there, I’m going to hit. When we came here everyone thought we are not that good, but we’ve shown how good we are.”
Australia’s Captain, Michael Clarke, won the toss and decided to bat, much to the delight of Jayawardene, who said that he would have preferred to bowl on the fresh wicket and chase down a total.
Australia’s openers, David Warner and Matthew Wade, made a cautious start to the innings, thanks to some tight bowling by the Sri Lankans.
However luck ran out for Wade, who has been batting well throughout the series, as he played all round a delivery from Dilshan and was dismissed.
Warner, meanwhile, was starting to play himself in and looked to be in good touch, even though there were doubts of him playing due to a groin injury.
However, Shane Watson, on the other end was having all sorts of trouble and soon after being dropped by Rangana Herath, was run out from some brilliant fielding by Farveez Maharoof.
Sri Lanka looked to have the momentum on their side with the two quick wickets, but when Michael Clarke and Warner started to attack the bowling, the momentum hung in the balance for a while, until, both Warner and Clarke reached half centuries.
Their partnership continued on and soon, after pouncing on the loose deliveries and some excellent running, both Clarke and Warner reached well-deserved centuries. Warner has now scored consecutive hundreds, as he played a memorable knock of 163 in the first final at Brisbane.
Warner’s back to back centuries earned him a spot in the record books as he became the first batsman to score two hundreds in the finals of the tri-series in Australia.
Clarke, who scored his seventh ODI century, and first against Sri Lanka, was feeling the ill effects of coming back so soon after his hamstring injury, as he was constantly stretching it and his lower back, which he has had problems with in the past.
Clarke’s strike rate of 128.57 is the highest among all of his seven centuries he has scored in ODIs.
Warner, upon reaching his century, tried to go after everything, but ended getting caught out on 100. Together the pair put on a dazzling 184 run partnership, which is now the third-highest in the finals of the tri-series.
Clarke soon succumbed to the pain in his back and hamstring as he was run out, which ended his sparkling innings.
During the partnership of Warner and Clarke, there was a delayed no-ball call in the 44th over and Jayawardene unleashed his frustrations on the umpires.
Jaywardene, asked what he would do if he were to be fined for the outburst, said that he would pay, whatever the cost happened to be.
None of the batsmen that followed made significant contributions and Australia finished on 271 runs.
Lasith Malinga was the only other Sri Lankan bowler to claim wickets, as he snapped up three, two of which came right at the end of the Australian innings, which stopped them from achieving a higher total.
Jayawardene was also fuming with the number of catches that were dropped throughout the Australian innings. “We were dropping catches like hot potatoes. Disappointed. We bowled well up front, but gave them about 20 runs extra” he said.
Chasing 272 to win and keep the series alive, Dilshan and Jayawardene came out and demolished the Australian bowling lineup from the beginning.
The Australian fans at Adelaide were stunned as both batsmen piled on the pressure against their team. On the other hand, the Sri Lankan fans were loving every moment of it and the atmosphere became full of life as both Dilshan and Jayawardene reached their half centuries.
Clarke was left scratching his head as he was clueless on how to stop the flow of runs. He tried everything he could, but, before he knew it, the hundred partnership had arrived.
However, Clarke was finally rewarded with a wicket, but, not after the damage had been done. Jayawardene was dismissed on 80 and the partnership of 179, which is the second highest for Sri Lanka against Australia, came to an end.
Dilshan refused to let the departure of his partner distract him, as he and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkarra put together a 55 run partnership, during which Dilshan brought up his 12th ODI hundred. However, he soon perished after that, when he was caught on the boundary by Michael Hussey on 106.
Dilshan became the second player ever to bowl ten overs and score a century in an ODI.
Needing only 38 runs to win, Dinesh Chandimal and Sangakkarra finished off the job with some sensible cricket and didn’t take too many risks.
Sangakkarra finished things for Sri Lanka with a boundary, which also took him to a well-played knock of 51 not out.
James Pattinson and Brett Lee were the only Australian bowlers to get a wicket each, in an attempt to try and derail the Sri Lankan innings.
Captain Clarke, was hugely disappointed with his team for the loss, and said: “Our bowling was poor, our fielding let us down. On good wickets you need to maximise your Powerplay, you need to make 300 on that wicket. The boys are working hard, we are just not executing against quality opposition. We’ve got to find a way.”
Captain Jayawardene, on the other hand, was delighted with the win, and said: “No one gave us a chance when we came to Australia, we’ve done a lot of hard work, we just need to do that on Thursday, execute our game plan.”
The decider will be played at Adelaide on the 8th of March, as both teams square off to claim the coveted prize and be crowned as the Commonwealth Bank series champions.