Australia romp to series victory
Australia cruised to a five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day international on Saturday to clinch the series with a game to spare.
Debutant Seekkuge Prasanna gave Australia a late scare, but the tourists still cruised to a five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day international to clinch the series with a game to spare.
Australia's bowlers have had an excellent series, dominating the opposition batsmen on their home turf. While the Sri Lankan batsmen enjoyed a huge amount of fortune in the third one-dayer, normal service was resumed on Saturday as the hosts were rolled for 132 in Colombo.
Although legspinner Prasanna spiced things up when he took three wickets in four balls during Australia's chase, by that stage the tourists required just ten runs to win and duly finished the job with 22 overs in hand.
Lasith Malinga had given his side a glimmer of hope when he dismissed Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting in the same over to reduce Australia to 26 for two, but Shaun Marsh grabbed his chance at the top of the order as he made 70 after opening alongside Watson.
Marsh was dropped by Mahela Jayawardene early in his innings, but was fluent thereafter and did enough to confirm that he should be Brad Haddin's replacement as Watson's preferred partner, scoring his runs at close to a run a ball.
Michael Clarke kept things sturdy at the other end, chipping away at the low total and finishing unbeaten on 38 from 60 balls with Haddin keeping him company when Australia crossed the line.
The Australian skipper was unflustered by the disappearance of three wickets late on, with Marsh and Michael Hussey caught behind off consecutive deliveries from Prasanna, who then bowled David Hussey two balls later.
Earlier much-maligned spinner Xavier Doherty proved he's more than capable at the highest level as his four wickets saw Sri Lanka bundled out for a pitiful total at the Premadasa.
With the Australian spin selections often thought to be more in line with a lucky packet pick than statistical substance, it always comes as a surprise when it's a spinner that leads the charge for the men from Down Under but that was the case on Saturday.
Having won the toss and decided to bat first, Sri Lanka got off to a poor start in the face of some disciplined bowling up front from Brett Lee and Doug Bollinger.
Skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan (12) was the first to go, edging a Bollinger delivery to Haddin behind the stumps. His opening partner, Upul Tharanga (8), proved his own worst enemy with a silly slog resulting in his stumps being disturbed by Lee.
In familiar style, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene began to repair the innings, with their 71-run partnership breathing some life into the total.
However, it was then that Doherty came to the fore.
The spinner was a tad fortunate to get his first wicket as Sangakkara (31) foolishly holed out to long on. The Tasmanian then proceeded to dispose of Chamara Silva (0) in the same over before having Angelo Mathews (6) stumped in the next.
With the heart ripped out of the Sri Lankan order, Lee and Watson picked up a wicket apiece as Jayawardene quickly ran out of partners.
Jayawardene (53) perished in the hunt for quick runs and just a ball later the innings was over with Lee rearranging the stumps of Malinga to, like Doherty, finish with four scalps.
The victory gave Australia an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, which finishes on Monday with the final match at the Premadasa.
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