Australia Humiliated in Sydney - VB Series - Australia v Sri Lanka

Cricket News 09/01/03

Report by Jon Cocks

Experimenting with the World Cup in mind, Australia paid the price in this match for fielding just two front line bowlers. Three dropped catches, sloppy ground fielding in the first twenty overs and inconsistent line and length by Australia's bowlers allowed Sri Lanka to break the record for ODI innings totals in and against Australia, as they amassed 5-343 from fifty overs.

Sanath Jayasuriya (122 from 105 balls, with four sixes and twelve fours) indicated before play that he was going to go after the bowling to try to hit his way back into form. His first slice of luck was to be bowled by a Brett Lee no ball.

Missed by Hogg - a sitter - at backward point, the little captain backed himself, took two for the shot and ten from the next two balls and - with Attapattu (101 from 124 with five fours) - piled on 237 for the first wicket, a Sri Lankan record partnership for all wickets.

From the moment Jayasuriya thrashed Lee (7-0-41-0) into the backward point fence in the ninth over, two things were clear: the wicket was better for batting than Ponting anticipated and Jayasuriya had re-discovered the touch that had eluded him so far.

Symonds (9-0-50-1) replaced Bichel (10-0-70-1) at the Paddington end and the hundred came up in the sixteenth over, when Jayasuriya flicked Watson (10-0-72-2) over backward square leg for six and - next ball - passed fifty from 49.

Attapattu raised his half-century, as both batsmen punished the less experienced Australian bowlers, taking easy singles, turning some of them into two with excellent running between the wickets and causing fumbles in the normally flawless Australian field. Three referrals to the third umpire went in the visitors' favour.

Hogg (9-0-72-0) could make no impression, as Jayasuriya swept him from outside off stump behind backward square for a boundary and lofted him over cover for a towering six, his third. Symptomatic of Australia's uncustomary wobbles in the field, Bevan put down a straightforward lofted top edge from Jayasuriya.

The Sri Lankan captain's hundred came from 87 balls in the following over, celebrating by creaming Watson over mid wicket for his fourth six. Finally, Shane Watson rattled Jayasuriya's leg stump, as he backed away to leg to improvise another boundary to third man.

Aravinda de Silva (13) played a nice cameo, also to be bowled by Watson, just after a magnificent dive and flick throw from Ponting - from mid on - ran Attapattu out at the bowler's end. Arnold (0) fell over trying to sweep Symonds and was stumped.

Jayawardene (37*) finished the innings well, supported by Sangakkarra (25) and the Sri Lankans completed the most stunning form reversal with the bat imaginable, after their risible 65 in Adelaide just 48 hours earlier.

From the moment that Adam Gilchrist (6) dragged his third delivery from Vaas onto his stumps in the first over of the Australian reply to the 344 target, victory in the sixth VB Series match at the SCG had slipped out of reach.

The very fact that the attempt had not been abandoned at 5-150 speaks highly of the self-belief of the home team. Even with 74 needed from 53 balls to save conceding the bonus point, the tenth wicket pairing of Watson (35*) and Bichel (28) kept trying and got within a rough chance of at least that consolation from a disastrous day at the SCG.

Hayden (35) looked to score from every ball. Having lost Ponting (15), he found an ally in Martyn (40), but with each over the runrate climbed, and by the time that Hayden holed out to Jayawardene from Dilhara Fernando (9-0-46-1), the asking rate had reached nearly eight an over.

Only a withering opening stand of a hundred from ten or eleven overs could have even helped get Australia close to the mammoth Sri Lankan total. Instead, Chaminda Vaas (6-0-29-1) kept Martyn pinned down and Bevan took a number of deliveries to get into his stride.

Aravinda de Silva (6-0-40-0) was introduced and his slow off spinners proved difficult at first to get away with the field set back. Martyn tried to back away and force the bowling, but - when Jayasuriya brought Muralitharan (10-1-44-2) into the attack - the task went from unlikely to impossible.

Whether or not you accept that the Tamil terror bowls legitimate deliveries or not, he turned them sharply, sometimes the 'other' way, varying his deliveries through the air and making it very hard for the batsmen to develop any scoring momentum.

Jayasuriya came on at the other end to bowl the 25th over, with the home team needing nine an over to win. Neither Bevan (41) nor Martyn (40) could penetrate the field for the two boundaries an over required. Jayasuriya bowled Martyn and Bevan holed out to Tillakaratne from the same bowler.

Symonds (4) didn't last long, but the Sri Lankan captain suffered frustration, with Umpire Tiffin reluctant to give an LBW after his work in the Sydney Test match. Jayasuriya (10-1-39-4) had three good shouts, all of which might well have been given against Lee (20), who came in at 5-150 in a forlorn attempt to hit Australia back into the contest.

The latter stages of the Australian innings were all about trying not to concede the bonus point, but that became a distant dream when Maher (15) holed out to Jayasuriya, who bowled Lee with his next delivery and Watson had to avoid the hat-trick.

Experience in ODIs gets as many wickets as skill. Jayasuriya was on fire, bowling on the stumps with plenty of variation and a good quicker ball. In concert with Murali, who had Hogg (4) stumped by Sangakkara, the captain had chiselled Australia (264) out of the contest and sewn up the bonus point and Man of the Match award for himself.

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