Sri Lanka move in for kill against floundering Aussies

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Sri Lankan players Nuwan Kulasekara (left) and Dinesh Chandimal celebrate after beating Australia by 9 runs, in their International limited over series match, played at MCG in Melbourne on Friday, Mar. 2, 2012. Australia will now play Sri Lanka in the final series. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

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Mahela Jayawardene’s Sri Lankans are set to pinch the Commonwealth Bank ODI series from right under Australian noses. The series stands at 1-1 with the decider in Adelaide tomorrow.

But the momentum is all with the tourists.

To make life harder for the Australians, skipper Michael Clarke is an extremely doubtful starter with back and hamstring injuries. So too opening batsman David Warner with a groin problem that has been niggling for some time.

Take them out, and Australia’s in real trouble against a side that was won four of their last six meetings in this series alone. It’s no mean feat for the Sri Lankans to beat the world number one ranked side so often on Australian soil.

But the Sri Lankan’s have timed their finals run to perfection.

The Australian’s have gone off the boil, and it’s very hard to fight back when rhythym and confidence are lost.

That’s not an excuse, it’s a fact.

Just take the two games so far in the final.

Australian won the first at the Gabba by 15 runs, but it was the Sri Lankans who had the moral victory. To fight back from 6-144 with 20 overs to go chasing 322 for victory and only fall 15 shy was a magnificent effort from the lower order.

And they took that impetus into last night’s second final at Adelaide to cruise home by eight wickets, chasing 272 with 34 deliveries up their sleeve.

The win would have been even more comprehensive, and embarrassing, had the Sri Lankans not dropped six catches – all gettable.

The Sri Lankan surge is best underlined by taking the two top scores out of each innings in both games.

Take out Nuwan Kalusekara’s 73, and Upul Tharanga’s 60 in the first, and Tillakaratne Dilshan’s 106, and Jayawardene’s 80 in the second.

That left a balance of 8-261 for Sri Lanka in the two games.

Average 32.62.

For Australia, take out Warner’s 163 and Matt Wade’s 64 in the first, and Clarke’s 117 and Warner’s 100 in the second.

That left a balance of 10-138 for Australia in the two games.

Average 13.80.

There you have the stark Sri Lankan momentum: 32.62 to 13.80.

The other stark reminder is how the Australian attack, so dominant this summer, has fallen away so alarmingly in this finals series.

David Hussey, the most consistent batsman of the series, has also recorded the best bowling figures: 4-51 off 9.

Shane Watson’s next best with 3-68 off 14.4, followed by Brett Lee’s 4-99 off 17.

But then the crunch with James Pattinson 1-96 off 13, Xavier Doherty 0-94 off 19, Dan Christian 0-62 off 8, Clint McKay 0-51 off 9, and Ben Hilfenhaus 0-46 off 4.

Those five bowlers translate to 1-349 in just two games.

Barring a major form reversal, Sri Lanka should win tomorrow by the length of the straight.

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