Sri Lanka snatch late win over Australia
A maiden century from surprise packet Peter Forrest wasn’t enough as Sri Lanka completed the biggest one-day international run chase at Bellerive to down Australia by three wickets on Friday night.
Forrest made 104 off 138 balls to set the platform for Australia’s testing 6-280 but, on a belter of a pitch, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene (85 off 81 balls) and Dinesh Chandimal (80 off 119) led the way as the visitors made 7-283 with four balls to spare.
In chasing down the imposing target, they bettered Australia’s successful pursuit of 279 against Zimbabwe in Hobart in 2001.
The in-form Sri Lankans go top of the tri-series table on 15 points, ahead of Australia (14) and World Cup holders India (10), who are now desperately in need of a win against the hosts in Sydney on Sunday.
Sri Lanka had been cruising, at one stage 4-243, before quick wickets to Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus had the tourists needing 18 off the last two overs.
They needed 14 off nine when Dan Christian claimed Angelo Mathews for 24 but a four and six in consecutive balls from hard-hitting left-hander Thisara Perera had them back in range and Nuwan Kulasekara’s first-ball boundary sealed the deal.
Forrest, captain Michael Clarke (72 off 79) and the in-form David Hussey (40no off 28) took full advantage of the conditions but only local spinner Xavier Doherty demanded respect from the Sri Lanka batsmen, finishing with the superb figures of 1-34 and what might have been the match-changing wicket of Jayawardene.
Forrest is now averaging close to 60 after stepping into Ricky Ponting’s shoes at No.3 and helping the home side recover from 2-27.
Virtually unknown two weeks ago, the Queensland recruit capped a dream start to his international career, becoming the first Australian to score 50s in three of his first four ODI innings when he passed that mark off 78 balls in the 20th over.
Forrest hit 10 fours and two sixes in a partnership of 154 for the third wicket with Clarke, in his return from a hamstring injury after two Ponting-skippered matches.
Jayawardene got Sri Lanka off to a flyer, racing to 44 off 39 balls before his opening partner Dilshan Tillakaratne was caught by Forrest, making just three in an opening stand of 55.
Doherty got one to spin past Jayawardene’s bat and Matthew Wade made no mistake in whipping off the bails, leaving the match evenly poised 3-153.
Clarke said he had thought long and hard about sending Forrest in at first drop.
“The decision to bat Peter at No.3 was about what I thought was best for the team,” he said.
“I could have batted myself there, Michael Hussey there, a couple of the senior players but I thought it was a really good opportunity for him on a very good wicket and I’m very pleased that he made the most of it.”
But the skipper was again left lamenting his side’s bowling at the death.
“We’ve tried plenty of guys and we’ve got the right crew,” he said.
“We just have to execute better than we have throughout the whole series.”
Jayawardene praised his players for keeping their cool in a pressure cooker.
“A couple of them haven’t had much experience obviously, but I thought they handled the situation very well,” he said.
“They didn’t go for those big shots, they just kept it going (with singles).
“They set it up nicely.”© AAP 2013