Chasing big totals is never easy but in Australia, it's even tougher because grounds are big and there's always some help for the bowlers, if not some movement but atleast bounce to bend backs for. Untill today, only two teams had chased over 300 at an Aussie venue (334/8 by Australia v England at Sydney in 2011 and 303/9 by Sri Lanka v England at Adelaide in 1999). Today, Lankans impressed their way to 283/7 which now is the 7th highest total ever chased in Australia..
It was an inspirational knock from captain Mahela Jayawardene that set the platform for the ambitious chase and undermined maiden century from Peter Forrest and his 154 run partnership with Michael Clarke. Couple of timely blows from Thisara Perera at the dying minutes took visitors home after Xavier Doherty's spin and gile had kept home team in hunt till the very end. here's how the story unfolded :-
The scoresAustralia 280 for 6 wkts in 50 ovs.
Sri Lanka 283 for 7 wkts in 49.2 ovs.
Scorecard : Triseries game 9, 24 Feb 2012.
Not that Aussie captains care too much about, it was another good stripe and hence obvious decision to bat first once coin came down in Clarke's favour. Nuwan Kulasekara foxed Mathew Wade into a false drive early on while David Warner edged a Farveez Maharoof delivery to keeper Kumar Sangakkara.
2 down for 27 at the 7th over mark, captain Clarke joined Peter Forrest who was batting at no.3 position vacated by Ricky Ponting. Even though Sri Lankans bowled and fielded well, slowly but surely Forrest and Clarke imposed themselves as partnership started to grow. Hitting couple of sixes each, calling for early batting powerplay, 3rd wicket stand was flourishing untill Angelo Mathews made the breakthrough with run rate hovering around five runs an over. now, it was time for acceleration and Hussey brother did exactly that.
Collecting 99 runs from last 12 overs, Aussies had raised a tall total and were hoping scoreboard pressure will demoralize Lankans but it wasn't to be.
Tillakaratne Dilshan had been the in-form opener for Sri Lanka in this series since leaving captainship but today was Jayawardene's day. dominating 55 run opening stand in which Dilshan managed just 3 runs off 9 balls, Jayawardene mesmerised crowd with his stylish batting. Even after Dilshan departed, Kumar Sangakkara matched Jayawardene stroke per stroke and runs were flowing.
Mahela Jayawardene knew he had taken his team to a great start but it wasn't time to throw wicket away. Xavier Doherty was extracting some spin off the pitch and hence, with Dinesh Chandimal, Jayawardene decided to build another cautious partnership. 63 runs from 75 balls, Lankans had covered more than half the distance in half the time and victory still seamed possible.
Dinesh Chandimal continued his singles and doubles from other end, adding 49 runs with Lahiru Thirimanne and 41 with Angelo Mathews but asking rate was threatening to blow out of proportions. A fine over from Ryan Harris and another from Doherty, Aussie hopes were raised untill Thisara Perera smashed couple of fours and a six to bring the house down in style.