An ordinary fielding display was followed by a dazzling batting onslaught. Sri Lanka nailed a challenging chase with plenty to spare at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (106) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene (80) innovated and created to power their side — pursuing 272 — to a commanding eight-wicket over Australia in the second final of the Commonwealth Bank ODI series. With the series level 1-1, the decider will be played here on Thursday.
Earlier, David Warner's restrained 100 — his back-to-back century in the finals — and skipper Michael Clarke's strokeful 117 dominated the Australian innings after the host elected to bat. But then, the Aussie captain seemed to be bothered again by his hamstring.
Dilshan who also bowled his off-spinners with control on a batting track was adjudged Man of the Match.
The 179-run opening partnership in only 27.1 overs virtually settled the issue. Dilshan and Jayawardene waded into the bowling and the Australians chased leather.
Array of strokes
It can be hard for the bowlers to settle into a length against Dilshan. Bringing his reflexes and hand-eye coordination to the fore, he can dismiss bowling with minimum footwork. The opener can also essay conventional strokes of sound footwork on both sides.
If Dilshan slashed Brett Lee past the ropes, he also got on to the front foot to off-drive Watson past the ropes and rock back to pull James Pattinson when the paceman pitched one short.
Jayawardene — he was caught behind of a Clint McKay no-ball early on — proceeded to bat with timing and poise. This was an innings, where, in a deliberate attempt, he took the Australian bowlers on. He jumped out to Pattinson and pummelled the paceman down the ground. The shot was a statement of intent.
Like he does on most occasions, Jayawardene used to the depth of the crease for the cuts and the pulls. The skipper was in control.
Pattinson broke the opening partnership when he seamed one back into Jayawardene. And Dilshan's innings ended when he was held at deep mid-wicket off Lee.
Another experienced campaigner Kumar Sangakkara (51 not out) — the left-hander was punishing with his horizontal bat shots — and the young Dinesh Chandinal sealed the game for Sri Lanka.
The Australian bowling hardly made an impression on the rampant Sri Lankans but Watson was unlucky to have his caught behind appeal against Dilshan (on 77) turned down by umpire Asad Rauf. Replays revealed a clear edge.
Earlier in the day, the debate over the delayed no-ball call for height against Farveez Maharoof by umpire Bruce Oxenford appeared to have fired up Jayawardene and his men.
That moment of anger apart, captain Jayawardene was inventive. The tactically suave skipper opened with Dilshan's off-spin and Lasith Malinga was held back.
Dilshan bowled tightly and denied Australia early momentum. Jayawardene's plans worked — Malinga bowled superbly in the end overs. The slinger castled Michael Hussey with a quick fuller length delivery and consumed David Hussey with a deadly in-swinging yorker.
Malinga appeared to be struggling with a groin strain but bowled with verve and heart. The 50th over of the Australian innings where Malinga, bowling with precision, conceded only five runs was another turning point of the match.
The pacing of the Australian innings was awry. The host gathered only 35 runs in the last five overs when it had an opportunity to take the total close to 300. It was Sri Lanka which went into the break in a buoyant mood.
The Sri Lankans dropped catches, but creditably, the bowlers stuck to the task when they could have so easily lost it mentally.
Watson was reprieved twice (at 11 and 18) by Dilshan at point and Rangana Herath at long-off. Maharoof was the bowler to suffer on both occasions. However, Maharoof responded with a quick pick-up and throw to run the dangerous Watson out soon.
Then Clarke was put down on 71 by Kulasekara at extra-cover fence off Herath. And it was Herath who grassed David Hussey at mid-wicket off Kulasekara but the lapse did not prove costly.
When Clarke was on 77, his pull off Maharoof should have been held by Malinga at the square-leg fence. Instead, the erring fielder inadvertently pushed the ball over the ropes.
The Australian innings was dominated by the left-right pair of Warner and Clarke. Recovering swiftly from a groin strain, the normally belligerent Warner displayed other aspects of his game — composure and patience. He drove the ball between cover and mid-wicket, pushed into the gaps and ran hard.
There were flashes of aggression though. He thumped Maharoof over long-on for a six and creamed Malinga through covers.
Skipper Clarke delighted. He is light on his feet and gets into great position to execute strokes on both sides. The whip between square-leg and mid-wicket, the rasping cover-drives, the cut and the pulls dominated his innings. His onslaught on Maharoof in the 44th over was brutal yet beautiful.
Australia: M. Wade b Dilshan 14 (19b, 2x4), D. Warner c Dilshan b Malinga 100 (140b, 4x4, 1x6), S. Watson (run out) 15 (34b), M. Clarke (run out) 117 (91b, 5x4, 4x6), M. Hussey b Malinga 6 (5b, 1x4), D. Hussey b Malinga 7 (8b), D. Christian (not out) 4 (4b); Extras (b-2, lb-3, w-2, nb-1) 8; Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs): 271.
Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Wade), 2-56 (Watson), 3-240 (Warner), 4-256 (M. Hussey), 5-266 (Clarke), 6-271 (D. Hussey).
Sri Lanka bowling: Dilshan 10-0-40-1, Kulasekera 10-0-57-0, Malinga 10-0-40-3, Maharoof 10-0-71-0, Herath 10-0-58-0.
Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene lbw b Pattinson 80 (76b, 8x4, 1x6), T. Dilshan c M. Hussey b Lee 106 (119b, 10x4), K. Sangakkara (not out) 51 (57b, 5x4), D. Chandimal (not out) 17 (17b, 2x4); Extras (b-4, lb-4, w-9, nb-3) 20; Total (for two wkts. in 44.2 overs): 274.
Fall of wickets: 1-179 (Jayawardene), 2-234 (Dilshan).
Australia bowling: Lee 8-1-41-1, McKay 9-0-51-0, Pattinson 8-1-47-1, Doherty 9-0-55-0, Christian 4-0-29-0, D. Hussey 1-0-8-0, Watson 5.2-0-35-0.
Man-of-the-Match: T. Dilshan