In yet another low-scoring match, which happened to be the 9th ODI of CB Series, Australia asserted its supremacy against Sri Lanka by registering a rain-induced 24-run victory at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), Melbourne on Friday, February 22, 2008. On a difficult-to-bat pitch, Australia did well enough to pile up a seemingly vulnerable score of 184 runs and turned the same into a winning total with an outstanding bowling initiative from the home side as Duckworth-Lewis pitched in for a little help later in the innings.
Judging the conditions well, Sri Lanka opted to go in with the ball after winning the toss earlier in the day. The start was not bad either, as Australia lost wickets in a flurry to make the scorecard read 54 runs for 4 wickets in 21 overs. The victims included Aussie skipper himself who was quickly swiped away in an almost clinical run-out effort from Maharoof and Sangakkara after failing to find his rhythm with the bat. Clarke and Hussey took charge of the situation from here on and came up with a crucial 90-run stand for the 5th wicket to bring in a semblance of stability in the innings. Sri Lanka was now desperately searching for a wicket, the search came to an end with Muralitharan lapping up a return catch from Clarke when he was exactly at 50. Hussey stood his ground, however, to anchor the innings Hopes and Hogg failed to read Sri Lankan line and length at the other end. Sri Lankan bowlers did well enough to exploit the conditions in their favor and restrict Australia to a cricket score of 184 runs for 7 wickets in 50 overs.
A not-so-aggressive Sri Lankan side bore the brunt of Australian bowling as the home side inched closer to secure its place in the finals. Beginning on a jarring note, Sri Lanka lost its openers in a jiffy with Clark doing the trick to remove Perera and Jayasuriya and expose the middle-order to Australian pace and swing too early in the innings. Sangakkara and Jayawardene were intelligent enough to piece together a painfully slow but nevertheless significant 39-run partnership before Bracken got the better of Jayawardene in the 17th over itself. Things moved at snail's pace from here on, as Aussies left no stone unturned to use a difficult pitch against an under-pressure opponent side. It seemed like ages as Jayawardene and Silva nudged along to a 22-run partnership in no less than 51 balls. Ultimately, Sangakkara succumbed to the increasing pressure with a gritty 27-run cameo to his credit, which turned out to be the maximum innings score by any Sri Lankan player. Silva and Dilshan teamed up to keep things moving, with the run-rate growing ever scarcer before all hopes of reaching the yet-achievable target were almost literally washed away by an untimely downpour. Sri Lanka had to remain content with 77 runs scored in 29.3 overs for 4 wickets, which would be crucial in deciding the outcome. After keeping the game on hold for some time, umpires declared it a day and soon calculations were being worked out all around to find out who held an advantage in these rain-marred proceedings as per the controversial Duckworth-Lewis method. Australia was only too happy to grab their spot in the finals with a 24-run victory as per D/L method to go one-up against its opponents. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, would now require Australia to beat India on Sunday and not to lose even a single of the upcoming matches to create a possibility of reaching the finals.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012