Sri Lanka achieved its first-ever victory in a cricket series on Australian soil when it beat Australia by 29 runs in the rain-shortened second limited-overs international for a 2-0 lead in the three-match series on Friday.
Opener Upul Tharanga made an unbeaten 86 as Sri Lanka scored 213-3 in 41.1 overs,batting first after winning the toss. Australia was all out for 210 in 37.4 overs,chasing a revised target of 240 from 38 overs under the Duckworth/Lewis system. Sri Lanka won the first match of the series by one wicket at Melbourne on Wednesday,and its win on Friday extended to seven matches Australia’s losing streak in all forms of cricket. Defeat on Friday may increase Australia’s crisis of form and confidence as it approaches its Ashes Test series against England.
The first Test of the series begins in Brisbane on November 25.
Australia was outplayed in all facets of Friday’s match,which was made trying for both sides by rain interruptions. Sri Lanka was 161-2 when rain first intervened,forcing players from the field for almost 90 minutes. When it returned the match had been shortened from 50 to 45 overs per side but more disruption followed.
Heavy showers again halted play after 41.1 overs when Sri Lanka was 213-3 and umpires Bruce Oxenford of Australia and Marais Erasmus of South Africa were forced to end the Sri Lanka innings.
Tharanga had been its bulwark,batting for its entire duration and hitting six fours from 112 balls. He formed partnerships of 98 for the first wicket with Tillakaratne Dilshan (47) and 70 for the third with Kumar Sangakkara (45).
With Angelo Mathews hero of Sri Lanka’s win at Melbourne he dashed 33 runs from the last four overs of the innings. Australia was first set a chase for 244 from 39 overs but a further over was lost to rain during the home side’s innings,most of which was played in drizzle. It was immediately on the back foot when hard-hitting opener Brad Haddin was dismissed for one with the total on three.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting (10) fell to a leg-side catch from a lazy pull shot at 32 and Sri Lanka was able to assert steady pressure on the remainder of the top order. Shane Watson was Australia’s main hope and he batted with authority to reach 40 from 44 balls with two fours and a six before falling lbw to Muttiah Muralitharan.
Australia needed regular boundaries but fours and sixes slowed to a trickle against tight Sri Lankan bowling and Australia’s required run rate grew oppressively as the innings continued. Michael Clarke made 25 from 30 balls with one four and one six and Cameron White failed to hit a boundary in an innings of 35 from 43 balls. When he was out with the total 155 in the 31st over,Australia’s chase was virtually at an end.
Steven Smith made 33 and Mitchell Johnson a quickfire 23 from 17 balls before Australia fell well short of its target. Muralitharan finished with 2-30,Thissara Perera 2-39,Nuwan Kulasekara 2-48 and Suraj Randiv 2-53. Lasith Malinga bowled superbly through the latter stages of the inning and finished with 1-34 from 7.4 overs.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 213 for 3 in 41.1 ovs (Upul Tharanga 86 not out,Tillakaratne Dilshan 47; Shane Watson 2-34) bt Australia 210 all out in 37.4 ovs (Shane Watson 40; Muttiah Muralitharan 2-30,Thisara Perera 2-39).