Sri Lanka have pulled off a thrilling 9-run win over hosts Australia to qualify for the CB Series Finals. The Lankans with this victory have knocked out India from the tri-series and will clash with the hosts in the best of three finals that begin on the 4th. Needing a modest 239 to win on a decent batting track, Australia made heavy weather losing wickets early and then losing them at regular intervals right through the game. A fighting knock from David Hussey went in the vain and he was the last man to be dismissed with Australia needing 10 runs to win from the final over.
The Lankans were given a tremendous start with the new ball from Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara which reduced the hosts at 26 for 3 in 5 overs. The first wicket fell in the 3rd over when David Warner (6) got onto the backfoot to drive a widish delivery from Malinga but the ball stopped onto him and the left-hander tamely spooned a catch to covers. Two balls after this, the other opener Mathew Wade (9) departed trapped infront of middle by a Nuwan Kulasekara delivery that zipped through. Newcomer Peter Forrest was caught behind trying to cut a short and wide delivery from Lasith Malinga to leave his side on the backfoot.
The hosts pulled off a fine partnership between Skipper Shane Watson, who came in at no.3 along with the reliable Michael Hussey. The pair took the homeside past 100 but in the 25th over, Michael Hussey (29 from 56 balls) got caught behind trying to steer part-time medium pacer Lahiru Thirimanne to thirdman. Thirimanne was bowling only because Thisara Perera had left the park after a side strain. Skipper Shane Watson kept the hopes alive for the Aussies with some powerful shot but when he fell in the 31st over to Lasith Malinga, his team was back in trouble at 140 for 5. Watson struck 65 from 83 balls with 5 fours before he got clean bowled playing all across a yorker from Malinga.
Within no time, Sri Lanka got another wicket that of hat-trick hero Daniel Christian (3) when he patted back a return catch to the forward diving Sachithra Senanayake. A tiny partnership began after this between David Hussey and the left-handed James Pattinson. The pair added 27 runs before Pattinson (12) whipped a Rangana Herath half volley straight into the hands of Dilshan at short mid wicket to leave his team at 178 for 7 in 40.3 overs.
Australia got back into the match once again as David Hussey got a partnership going with Xavier Doherty. David Hussey with a bit of support from Doherty took Australia well within the the reach of the target. In the 49th over, Sri Lanka desperate to take the two remaining wickets got one of them when Xavier Doherty (7) drove at a widish slower one from Malinga to lob up a catch to mid off. It all boiled down to the final over with Australia needing 10 runs to win from the final over having just survived Malinga.
The first ball of the final over saw David Hussey go through with a big shot off Nuwan Kulasekara but only for the ball to sail flat in the air and straight to Sri Lanka’s safest fielder Tillakaratne Dilshan at long off! Both Malinga (10-0-49-4) and Nuwan Kulasekara (9.1-1-38-2) who had a nightmare against India at Hobart bounced back strongly to bowl Sri Lanka into the Final. Prior to their efforts, Sri Lanka had reached a total of 238 thanks largely to Dinesh Chandimal who got the Man of the Match for his fluent knock of 75. (Also read : Daniel Christian hat-trick helps Aus bowl out SL for 238 at MCG)