Sri Lanka’s thrilling win eliminates India from CB series

Melbourne: Sri Lanka’s thrilling nine-run win over Australia in the last pool match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) eliminated India from the finals of the Commonwealth Bank tri-series here Friday.

An Australia win would have assured India a place in the best-of-three finals. But Sri Lanka, who had lost last year’s World Cup final to India were determined and stole the show with a spirited performance.

Chasing a target of 239, Australia were all out for 229 with five balls to spare. Shane Watson (65) and David Hussey (74) took Australia close to victory but Lasith Malinga dominated with four for 49 from 10 overs, collecting the scalps of three of the top-five batsmen.

A hat-trick by all-rounder Dan Christian (5/31) and good display by young fast bowler James Pattinson (4/51) restricted Sri Lanka to 238 all out in 50 overs. Pattinson’s comeback is likely to raise doubts on veteran fast bowler Brett Lee, who made way for the 21-year-old.

But batting let down the hosts. Playing in front of a 28,900 crowd, comprising mostly Sri Lankan fans, Australia were under pressure right from the start with openers David Warner (6), Matthew Wade (9), and in-form Peter Forrest (2) back in the pavilion with only 26 runs on the board after five overs.

Watson (65 off 83 balls) and Mike Hussey (29 off 56 balls) resurrected the innings with an 87-run partnership off 120 balls. But after they departed, Australians were in deep trouble at 5-140 in the 31st over.

David waged a lonely fight with run-a-ball 74, hitting four fours and a six. With Australia needing 10 runs from the last over, David decided to attack right from the first ball off Nuwan Kulasekara and holed out to Tillakaratne Dilshan at the long-off boundary.

Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara (64 off 92 balls) and Dinesh Chandimal (75 off 84 balls) shared a 123-run partnership off 144 deliveries and Lahiru Thirimanne chipped in with 51 off 59 deliveries to ensure Sri Lanka a competitive target.

After Pattinson softened up the top order, Christian helped himself to a hat-trick. Christian had Thisara Perera brilliantly caught on the fence by Mike. The veteran player caught the ball and then tossed it back into play as he crossed the rope and caught it again inside.

Christian then trapped Sachithra Senanayake in front of the stumps, and sealed his hat-trick when umpire Rod Tucker gave Numan Kulasekara lbw but replays showed the ball missing leg stump.