Australia overcame the absence of injured captain Michael Clarke to win the deciding match in the tri-series final against Sri Lanka by 16 runs on Thursday. In doing so, Australia went on to win the Commonwealth Bank series, after losing in the finals to England and India respectively in the previous two editions. Although Australia may not have been the most deserving winners, they produced great performance at the most crucial moments. Australia looked all set to lose to the Sri Lankans for the fifth time in six matches in the tournament, after scoring a modest 231 in the 1st innings, after being sent in to bat at the Adelaide Oval. All-round performances by Man-of-the-Match Clint McKay and veteran fast bowler Brett Lee helped Australia defend 231 and hence win the CB series. With this win, Australia will go on to retain their number one ODI ranking for third straight year, unless they lose 5-0 to West Indies in their upcoming series. Meanwhile, World Champions India dropped to the third spot on ICC ODI rankings, after their dismal show in the CB series. South Africa is placed second, one point ahead of India. While Sri Lanka continue to be the fourth rank side in the world.
Sri Lanka looked all set to end their trophy drought after restricting Australia to a paltry 231 on a batting friendly pitch. But man of the match Clint McKay followed his 28 runs with five wickets to help bowl out Sri Lanka’s previously potent batting line up for 215. Fast bowler Brett Lee added three wickets and stand-in skipper and all rounder Shane Watson took the vital late wicket of Upul Tharanga while the Sri Lankan batsman was on 71. Earlier, Australia collapsed in an uncharacteristic manner after a brilliant start by David Warner (48) and Mathew Wade (49). Had Clint McKay (28) and Brett Lee (32) not come to Australia’s rescue, Australia would have found it difficult to cease Sri Lanka from winning the CB series.
Australia won the best of three finals series 2-1. Earlier, Sri Lanka won by eight wickets when chasing a higher total here on Tuesday to level the series after Australia won the first match in Brisbane last Sunday by 15 runs. Considering the ease with which Sri Lanka rattled off a target of 272 on Tuesday, there was expectancy that this chase would be relatively simple. But it was not to be. McKay extracted the in-form pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal and Lee nipped out the big wickets of Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan to leave Sri Lanka at 50 for 4 inside ten overs. Suddenly a target of 232 seemed more like 300, and Australia, in with more than a sniff, pressed the throttle.
The series was a very closely fought series where Sri Lanka just managed to win the last league game, to knock out India from the competition. Even though Australia were the home team, Sri Lanka were the favorites to win the CB series after beating Australia 3 out of 4 times in league games. Never in the course of the series did we have a side which dominated the other two sides completely and looked the firm favorites to win the series. Even in the final series, we had to wait till the very end to find out whether Australia or Sri Lanka were taking the trophy home.
Sri Lanka made an inspirational chase in the 1st final at Brisbane after David Warner (163) powered Australia to 321/6. Sri Lanka looked down and dead at 144/6 before Upul Tharanga (60) and Nuwan Kulasekara (73) put up a spirited performance. Australia managed to get crucial wickets at right time as they managed to restrict Sri Lanka to 306, to win the first final by 15 runs and lead the finals series 1-0.
Two days later, David Warner put up another spectacular performance with skipper Michael Clarke as Australia raced to 271/6 in their allotted 50 overs. Although Adelaide is a batting paradise, chasing 271 in the finals when you are 1-0 down wasn’t easy. Sri Lanka required a monumental effort and both the openers just provided that. Mahela Jayawardene (80) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (106) piloted the Sri Lankan chase. Sri Lanka made a lite work of Australian total, as they chased it in 44 overs with 8 wickets in hand.
Man of the Series : Tillakaratne Dilshan ( 513 runs at an average of 51.30 including 2 hundreds and 1 half-century)