Cricket: Thirimanne guides Sri Lanka to resounding win to level series


January 13, 2013

Brief Scorecard: Sri Lanka 2 for 172 (Thirimanne 102*, Dilshan 51) beat Australia 170 (Haddin 50, Malinga 3-32) by 8 wickets

Lahiru Thirimanne scored his maiden hundred in Sri Lanka's series-equalling win in Adelaide

January 13, 2013

Brief Scorecard: Sri Lanka 2 for 172 (Thirimanne 102*, Dilshan 51) beat Australia 170 (Haddin 50, Malinga 3-32) by 8 wickets

Lahiru Thirimanne scored his maiden hundred in Sri Lanka's series-equalling win in Adelaide

Sri Lanka's coach Graham Ford expected far better from his men after an abject display in the first ODI, and in Adelaide they duly delivered. A highly disciplined bowling ensemble laid bare Australian frailty against the seaming ball before Lahiru Thirimanne anchored a comfortable chase on a tacky pitch in the second match of the series at Adelaide Oval.

The visitors lost Upul Tharanga in the first over of their chase but were largely untroubled thereafter, as the surface eased after earlier offering helpful seam movement for Sri Lanka's bowlers. Thirimanne reached a deserved century by cutting Xavier Doherty backward of point for the winning runs with eight wickets and 59 balls to spare, having been accompanied for much of the pursuit by an uncharacteristically reserved Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Particular praise was also due to Nuwan Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews, who took the new balls and set Australia on the defensive by moving the ball just enough through the air and off the seam, while keeping the runs down. Lasith Malinga and Thisara Perera then followed up with wickets of their own. Named in place of the injured Dinesh Chandimal, the debut gloveman Kushal Perera kept wicket neatly and held four catches.

Besides their problems with seam friendly conditions reminiscent of England, Australia were discomforted further by Brad Haddin's struggles with an apparent hamstring strain, which began to affect him during the latter stages of a rearguard innings of 50 and then forced a regular dialogue with the team physio Alex Kountouris in the early overs of the evening session.

Eventually Haddin surrendered to the injury, leaving Phillip Hughes to take up duties as Australia's makeshift gloveman for the second time this summer. The hosts can expect their team to be significantly reinforced when the national selector John Inverarity names the squad for the next two matches of the series, having started well in Melbourne but fallen away badly in Adelaide.

After Tharanga's early departure to a Clint McKay delivery angled across him, Dilshan and Thirimanne played with good sense and shot selection. Dilshan had one LBW appeal by Doherty referred to the third umpire, but the television evidence proved too marginal for an overturned verdict.

They were not to be separated until only a further 34 runs were required. By that point Australia had lost Haddin and also the bowling of the debutant Kane Richardson, who followed up a first ball duck with the bat by suffering the ignominy of being drummed out of the bowling attack for repeatedly running on the pitch in his follow through. It is a problem that will require some technical work to correct.

The first indication that Australia were not at their sharpest came in the opening over when Aaron Finch clipped the ball straight to square leg and set off for a single – Phillip Hughes would have been out by yards had the ball found stumps or wicketkeeper. Fortunate there, Finch was to be out for his second low score in as many matches and again fell to a tentative stroke, pushing Mathews to short cover after he had nudged Ajantha Mendis into the wicketkeeper's gloves at the MCG.

Hughes struggled to find the fluency he had managed while making a century on debut, and was pinned in front of the stumps by Kulasekara, wasting Australia's only review on a ball that pitched in line and would have taken middle and off. David Hussey and George Bailey briefly steadied the innings in a stand of 39, but the stand-in captain's fortunate stay, punctuated by numerous edges, was ended when he pulled Malinga to midwicket where Thirimanne held a decent catch.

Steve Smith, brought in for Usman Khawaja, hinted at fluency during his brief stay but drove loosely at a Perera delivery that seamed back into him and was taken behind. To this point Hussey had looked the most composed of the batsmen, but his run out in another mix-up and a neat Mathews leg cutter to remove Glenn Maxwell, put Australia in deep trouble.

Cutting and Haddin resisted for 15 overs and 57 runs, the former showing glimpses of the batting skill he had demonstrated for Queensland over the past two summers. Eventually Malinga's pace and unique angle drew an edge from Cutting, and next ball his fellow debutant Richardson was flummoxed by a dipping slower ball and pinned LBW.

Clint McKay averted the hat-trick but then fell victim to a decision overturned for reasons known only to the third umpire Richard Kettleborough, for replays showed no solid evidence of an edge behind from Perera's bowling, and HotSpot was no more revealing.

The last man Doherty's arrival moved Haddin to swing a mighty six into the Members Stand. He picked out midwicket when trying to repeat the shot from Mendis, leaving the hosts with a sorry total that would quickly prove to be inadequate.

Courtesy: cricinfo