Australia were crowned champions of the Commonwealth Bank series after a surprising 16 run come from behind victory against Sri Lanka in a gripping finale at the Adelaide Oval.
Australia, who did not perform to the best of their abilities, looked as if they would need a miracle to pull off the win.
Sri Lankan Captain, Mahela Jayawardene, was a little shocked that the team had not been able to pull off, what looked to be, a simple victory. “Initially if we were given 231 we would have taken it. They put a lot of pressure on us, one of those days” he said.
Jayawardene, upon winning the toss, decided to bowl first due to his confidence in his batting lineup’s ability to chase down targets.
David Warner and Matthew Wade opened the innings for Australia and made a solid start. Warner was looking in excellent form, as he was finding the gaps and hitting boundaries off the poorer length deliveries. Wade on the other hand was physically ill on the pitch and had to take a break to get some medication and water, before settling down and continuing on with his innings.
Warner and Wade got Australia off to a good start, with a 75 run partnership, but, just as they were looking to step it up to the next level, Warner was dismissed on 48, falling agonisingly short of what would have been yet another half century of the series.
Wade, hoping to continue his good start, put together a decent partnership with stand-in Captain Shane Watson, but soon after watched in horror as Watson was caught out.
With two key dismissals, Sri Lanka were hoping to keep the pressure on Australia.
That is just what they did as they removed Wade, who seemed to be distracted by the loss of his two partners, just one run short of his half century.
Soon after, wickets kept falling and Australia were looking in a state of total confusion and disarray. The middle order of the batting lineup failed to produce any spark of hope that Australia so desperately needed.
Australia were finally given some hope from Brett Lee and Clint Mckay, as they put together a highly valuable partnership of 40, before Mckay was dismissed after going for one big shot too many.
Lee, on the other hand, was playing some sensible cricket, calling sharply for runs and looking to hit the odd boundary, but his luck ran out when he was bowled out after the ball the ball hit his boot and ended up rolling onto the stumps.
Before long, Australia were all out for 231, with three deliveries still remaining in their innings.
Sri Lanka’s Farveez Maharoof and Rangana Herath were the best of the bowlers, as they both snapped up three wickets. They were well supported by Nuwan Kulasekara, who took two wickets and Tillakaratne Dilshan, who had one.
Australia were discussing their game plan while the Sri Lankan openers, Dilshan and Jayawardene, made their way to the crease.
Sri Lanka, seemed to be the team with the momentum on their side, however, that soon changed as Australia ripped right through the top order of the Sri Lankan batting lineup.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Upul Tharanga steadied the innings for Sri Lanka as they put together a vital partnership of 60 runs, until Thirimanne was dismissed after a good knock of 30.
Tharanga, however, kept his innings going and continued to push Sri Lanka towards victory as he brought up a beautifully played half century.
With Tharanga playing well on one end, the other batsmen were under pressure to back him up. But, they could not do the job, as Tharanga watched partner after partner sent back to the pavilion.
Tharanga, knowing the tail of the batting lineup was now exposed, tried to take matters into his own hands, but failed to excel Sri Lanka close enough to their target as he was caught out.
The tail did put some sort of resistance, as Kulasekara and Maharoof chipped in with scores of 15 and 18 runs.
However, after both were out, things looked really grim and Sri Lanka were finally bowled out for 215. Thus began the celebrations for the Australians.
Clint Mckay was all over the Sri Lankans today, as he took five wickets, but his contribution wouldn’t have meant as much if it hadn’t been for Brett Lee, who picked up three wickets and Shane Watson, who had two of his own.
Jayawardene was proud of his team and the fight and heart of the Australian team, and said: “Very proud of the boys against two quality teams. The objective is to rebuild for the next four years and we’ve learnt a lot and I’m proud of the youngsters.”
Clarke, who was sitting out the game with a hamstring injury, was on cloud nine, as he watched his team pick up the win from the sidelines. “Much better team without me I reckon. All the boys have a few more grey hairs…Watson’s done another good job. I think we continue to see the strength of our domestic set up, getting guys ready for Australia” he said.
With Australia celebrating the championship, they will look to continue their winning streak when they travel to the Caribbean to face the West Indians. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will be heading to Bangladesh to compete in the Asia cup with the hosts, India and Pakistan.