Explosive opener David Warner blasted his maiden One-day hundred and guided Australia to a 15-run win over Sri Lanka in the first final of the CB Series here Sunday after the visiting team staged a remarkable fight-back to take the match right down to the wire.
Sri Lanka were reeling at 144 for six in their chase of 322 before a 107-run stand between tail-ender Nuwan Kulasekara (73) and Upul Tharanga (60) took them almost on the verge of an improbable win, getting all out for 306 in 49.2 overs. Warner smashed 163 off 157 balls in Australia’s 321 for six, surpassing David Gower’s 158 for the highest One-day International (ODI) score at the Gabba.
Australian team has gained the advantage in the best of three finals after their first win over Sri Lanka in four games. The second final will be played at Adelaide Tuesday.
The home team had things under control in their defence for as long as the 35th over with Sri Lanka needing 160 runs at an asking rate of 10.66 runs per over. Australia spearhead Brett Lee did the damage early on by getting rid of Sri Lanka’s big three in skipper Mahela Jayawardene (14), Tillakaratne Dilshan (27) and Kumar Sangakkara (42) while off-spinner David Hussey proved more than handy in the middle overs, picking up a four-wicket haul.
Australia were cruising to victory with Sri Lanka six down for less than 150, but Kulasekara played a blinder to bring his team back from the dead.
Kulasekara took the best possible option in crisis, taking the attack to the Australian bowlers. He hit seven blistering fours in his 43-run ball innings and two of his three big hits came after he hit Hussey over mid-wicket in successive deliveries before getting caught at extra cover two balls later to make it 248 for seven in the 42nd over. Sri Lanka needed 72 runs off the last eight overs.
Dhammika Prasad’s (31 not out) cameo further raised hopes of a famous win but after another set batsman Tharanga departed at 285 for eight, it proved too much off a job for the lower-order batsman.
Sri Lanka needed 16 off the last over and the last man out was Lasith Malinga, who failed to read a slower one by Watson and gave an easy catch to Mike Hussey at deep square leg.
Earlier, Warner and his opening partner Matthew Wade (64) set up the tone for a big score by sharing 136 runs in 24 overs.
Warner’s innings was a mixture of caution and aggression. He cut loose towards the end, hitting 13 fours and two sixes overall.