Sri Lanka beat Australia, reach finals

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Sri Lanka have qualified for the tri-series finals against Australia after beating the home side by nine runs in a dramatic finish to Friday’s one-day clash at the MCG.

The result means MS Dhoni’s world champions India finish last in the tri-series standings and miss the finals.

Acting captain Shane Watson made 65 for Australia and David Hussey was last man out for 74 in a total of 229 off 49.1 overs chasing 239 for victory.

Dan Christian claimed a career-best 5-31 including a hat-trick as Australia earlier bowled Sri Lanka out for 238.

Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga claimed 4-49 in a fabulous comeback, just three days after his nightmarish return of 1-96 off 7.4 overs against India in Hobart.

The match attracted a crowd of 28,901, with Sri Lanka’s supporters out-numbering the home fans by a clear margin.

Australia lost David Warner, Matthew Wade and Peter Forrest cheaply and were 3-26 from five overs in their run chase.

Mike Hussey (29 off 56 balls) carved out an 87-run stand for the fourth wicket with Watson.

Malinga fired in a yorker between the bat and pad of Watson at 5-140 and Christian was caught at bowled by off-spinner Sachitra Senanayake for five.

Sri Lanka found themselves a bowler short after medium-pacer Thisara Perera left the field clutching his back five balls into his first spell.

James Pattinson made 12 and Clint McKay was run out for six.

Xavier Doherty (seven) showed a cool head, putting on 39 for the ninth wicket with David Hussey before Malinga removed Doherty in the 49th over.

David Hussey fell from the first ball of the 50th over, sparking a massive celebrations from Sri Lanka’s fans and players.

Christian’s hat-trick came in the 44th over of Sri Lanka’s innings as Perera fell to a spectacular juggling catch by Mike Hussey on the boundary rope at deep mid-wicket.

Sachitra Senanayake and Nuwan Kulasekara were adjudged lbw for ducks in the following two deliveries, although replays suggested the ball to Kulasekara was missing leg stump.

It’s just the fourth hat-trick by an Australian in an ODI game.

Paceman Pattinson claimed 4-51 in his first international match since injuring his foot in the Sydney Test two months ago.

Pattinson’s career-best haul included the key wickets of Dinesh Chandimal (75), Kumar Sangakkara (64) and Lahiru Thirimanne (51).

Australia rested skipper Michael Clarke (back/hamstring soreness) for a second consecutive game and Pattinson returned for Brett Lee.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said his men had been determined to bounce back from their embarrassing defeat against India on Tuesday.

“The boys showed a lot of character,” Jayawardene said.

“The lift that we got (from the fans) probably pushed us in the last few overs.”

© AAP 2014
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