Sri Lanka thrashed hosts Australia in the sixth ODI of the CommonWealth Bank series in a rain curatiled match in Sydney. Australia, lead by Ricky Ponting in absence of the injured Michael Clarke, surrendered meekly right from the start of the match and conceded a bonus point to the visitors.
On a green surface in Sydney, Ponting won the toss and elected to bat first. The decision seemed a bit perplexing because Australia’s bowlers have been in good form throughout the summer and the surface, coupled with the cloudy weather would have assisted the pacers. Sri Lanka, however, made the right call and dropped off spinner Sachitra Senanayake to bring in all rounder Farvez Maharoof. Four seamers and Rangana Herath seemed a very unlikely combination for Sri Lanka. But it proved to be a masterstroke as the opening bowlers, Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara, had David Warner and Mathew Wade on the mat early on. Warner was done in by a superb spell of pace bowling from the curly haired Malinga who used an impressive change of pace to bamboozle the explosive left hander. Ponting too, was done in by a change of pace from Maharoof and ended up lobbing the ball back to the bowler, in the process falling for yet another single digit score. After Mathew Wade managed to fall to the highest wicket taker in the series so far, a run out, Australia were left reeling at 37/3 after 11.3 overs.
Michael Hussey, coming back after some unwanted rest, tried to build the innings with Peter Forrest. However by that time, the Lanka bowlers were in full swing with Thisara Perera looking uncharacteristically lethal. Though he picked up his first of two wickets later, he caused a lot of trouble getting the ball to move away from the batsmen, beating the bat consistently. Maharoof reaped the fruits of Perera’s work as he went on to account for Forrest and it was left to David Hussey to save the innings from collapsing to below 100. He got no help from any of the recognized batsmen. Australia were 88/6 in 26 overs when incessant rain forced play to be halted. After nearly two hours and when the players finally got back onto the field, the match was reduced to 41 overs a side. Hussey resumed his innings in fine fashion and stitched a 49 run stand with Mitchell Starc following the departure of McKay and Lee. The young left arm bowler gave him good support as Hussey managed to reach to this 9th ODI fifty. The innings finally ended when Perera had him caught at sweeper cover and with Starc getting run out in the final over, Australia were bowled out for 158, atleast 50-60 short of the total they would have liked.
The Duckworth-Lewis calculation once again had everyone scratching their heads as the equation for Sri Lanka came down to 152 runs from 41 overs, 6 less than what Australia had scored. Tilekaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene started aggressively and put on a 74 run stand inside 12 overs with the ex-captain taking the lead in playing the big shots. One of them included a short arm jab off Starc which went flat over the square leg boundary, which sent out a strong statement to the selectors as well as the Aussies. By the time he got out for 45, the Australian bowlers looked like they had just been removed from a washing machine and failed to press the advantage any further. The ex-captain was replaced by another former captain, Sangakkara and in company of Mahela, sped away to the finishing line. Sangakkara brought up 10,000 ODI runs during his stay at the crease and though he got out in a tame fashion to Brett Lee, he might have gone back to the pavillion feeling happy that such a huge landmark came in a match where his side thrashed a formidable opponent. Thisara Perera was adjudged the Man of the Match for snaring a couple of batsmen and effecting two run outs.
They may be at the bottom of the table right now but Sri Lanka have the highest net run rate at the moment and thus opening up the series quite nicely.