Sri Lanka seal consolation win


Sri Lanka insisted on better from their middle order in the build-up to the match – and on Monday delivered for a four-wicket win over Australia in their fifth and final ODI in Colombo.

Sri Lanka insisted on better from their middle order in the build-up to the match – and on Monday delivered for a four-wicket win over Australia in their fifth and final ODI in Colombo.

Headed into the deadrubber on the back of a string of batting inadequacies in their three-one deficit, the hosts bucked the trend to bat first to instead send the Aussies in.

For their bold move and the hope that the middle order would step up in the pursuit, the home side ultimately earned themselves a consolation win.

Chasing a modest target after Lasith Malinga's hat-trick and the spinners had reduced the visitors to 211 all out in 46.1 overs, half-centuries from Chamara Silva and Mahela Jayawardene saw their side the bulk of the way to victory with 18 balls to spare.

Bouncing back from the early losses of Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, undone by the early in-roads of James Pattinson (two for 41) and Mitchell Johnson, Jayawardene and Silva weighed in with 71 and 63 respectively.

The latter was certainly the more aggressive of the two, with spinner Xavier Doherty's expense through backward square-leg and surrounds testament to the right-hander's love of the slog-sweep.

The right-handed Jayawardene, meanwhile, took it upon himself to form the backbone of the chase. In a 111-run stand with Silva, the former captain milked his way through 119 deliveries and looked set to be there at the arrival of the winning runs, only to hole out at extra cover in a late, uncharacteristic rush of blood to the head.

Silva had earlier bitten off a touch more than he could chew in the face of Doherty's change of length and holed out to the boundary rider on the on-side.

Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis, with the upcoming Test series in mind, meted out plenty of defensive shots and batting practice as the game drew to a weak end. Thankfully, a lack of third fielder between second and fourth slip brought an edge off Mendis' bat as a streaky boundary ended what could have been an unnecessarily prolonged end.

Earlier Sri Lanka's three-pronged spin attack and a Malinga three-in-three feat saw Australia crumble.

While seamer Shaminda Eranga picked up the early wicket of Shaun Marsh, who had looked scratchy throughout his innings, it was the spinners who did the hard yards early on.

Seekkuge Prasanna carried on from his impressive debut on Saturday and together with the Mendis duo of Jeevan and Ajantha prevented the Australian batsmen from scoring freely.

Shane Watson (56), so often supremely aggressive at the top of the order, was sedate by his standards.

Indeed, the all-rounder departed trying to force the pace, top-edging an Ajantha Mendis delivery to deep midwicket.

This was not before the Aussie vice-captain had shared in the first two meaningful partnerships of the day with first Ricky Ponting and then Michael Clarke.

Coming off a duck in the fourth ODI, Ponting looked composed and assured before clipping a Mathews delivery to short midwicket for 31. The pair had put on 67 for the second wicket, leaving Australia well placed with the end of the Powerplay in sight.

Watson and Clarke added a further 56 for the third wicket before the former was sent packing.

Mike Hussey (six) departed cheaply soon after but the Australian skipper found a willing partner in the younger of the Husseys, David.

Having looked in good touch, Clarke (47) will be disappointed to have seen his patient vigil end with an edge behind off the returning Eranga.

A worrying trend had begun to emerge, though, with Clarke the third man to get in only to get out when he needed to push on.

The Sri Lankan spinners deserve a fair whack of credit for this, with their disciplined showing making scoring difficult; trying to force the pace often proved costly for the batting side.

Worse was in store for the visitors, though. When David Hussey departed for 46, out trying to cut a spinner for the second game on the trot, an almighty collapse began.

The slow bowlers had done the job on the middle order, but it was Malinga who put his hand up for a demolition job on the remaining batters.

In a turn of events only possible from a master of Malinga's nature, the fast bowler picked up his third one-day hat-trick as he rolled out Johnson – bowled by a yorker – John Hastings – given lbw off a yorker – and Xavier Doherty – bowled by a low full toss.

Brad Haddin chipped Ajantha Mendis to mid-off in the next over to complete the capitulation as Australia crumbled from 210 for five to 211 all out.

The teams now head into a three-Test series, the first of which gets underway in Galle on 31 September.