CRICKET / The visitors clinch the series 2-0 after a nail-biting finish
Thisara Perera produced an outstanding all-round performance to help Sri Lanka to a two-run win over Australia in a rain-affected Twenty20 international on Monday, securing a 2-0 victory in the series that sparked animosity between the two sides.
After making a hard-hitting unbeaten 35 in Sri Lanka’s innings of 161-4 bolstered by Mahela Jayawardene’s 61 not out Perera bowled a pressure-laden final over to give his team victory under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Australia needed 18 runs from Perera’s final over to win the match, after being set a revised target of 122 from 15 overs following a lengthy rain delay.
The chase came down to four runs from the last ball but only a bye came after consecutive boundaries from the two previous deliveries, for Sri Lanka to take the match and the series.
However, the match ended with angry scenes as players from both teams clashed verbally, even during the traditional congratulatory handshakes.
Sri Lanka was displeased that Australian umpires Simon Fry and John Ward ruled the match should continue after an almost 90 minute rain delay, which left the outfield at the Melbourne Cricket Ground damp and slippery.
The fourth one-dayer between the teams at Sydney last week was abandoned in very similar circumstances when Sri Lanka was in a strong position to win both the match and the series. Then, a minor rain shower dampened the outfield causing the umpires to call off the match and costing Sri Lanka the chance to take a winning 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
After that match was abandoned, Australia won the fifth match to tie the series 2-2.
On Monday, Sri Lanka would have won the match clearly under the Duckworth-Lewis system if the umpires had abandoned the match when rain intervened after the 10th over of the Australian innings.
Sri Lanka’s stand
At that point, Australia was 60 for two and trailed Sri Lanka by 15 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Sri Lanka’s coach and captain made it clear to the umpires their belief that the match should not continue because of the condition of the playing area.
The umpires ruled that play could continue but, when they did so, five overs had been lost and Australia was set a revised target of 122. That amounted to 62 runs from five overs with eight wickets in hand; an achievable target in the conditions.
Sri Lanka’s anger intensified when Shaun Marsh, who was seen as the key figure in the Australian run chase, edged a ball from Ajantha Mendis to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal in the first over after the resumption but was adjudged not out.
Australia’s winning hopes were lifted when it took 16 runs from the second to last over, with George Bailey hitting consecutive boundaries and Marsh hitting a further four from the last ball.
That set up the task of scoring 18 runs from a last over which was packed with drama. — AP