Sri Lanka have pulled off an exciting run chase to beat Australia by 3 wickets with four balls to spare in Match 9 at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. The match went till the wire with Thisara Perera striking crucial blows with the bat to help the visitors pull off the run chase of 281 in style. The match was earlier set up in favour of the Lankans by neat knocks from Skipper Mahela Jayawardene and youngster Dinesh Chandimal. With this victory, Sri Lanka are most certainly in the Final of the Tri-Series especially after reachin the table top with 15 points in 6 matches. (Also read : Forrest, Clarke help Australia pile up 280 for 6 at Hobart)
It was a beautiful start for the Lankans and although Tillakaratne Dilshan managed to score just 3, the opening start yielded 55 runs in 8 overs! Mahela Jayawardene meant business right from the go as he played his shots positively. Dilshan who didn’t get much of the strike, infact facing just 9 balls in 8 overs got out pulling Ben Hilfenhaus to Peter Forrest at deep backward squareleg. Sri Lanka received their second blow when a well set Kumar Sangakkara (22 from 22 balls) was caught at point off a leading edge while flicking an innocuous Daniel Christian.
At 90 for 2 in the 14th over, Mahela Jayawardene was joined by Dinesh Chandimal and the two right handers took the game forward with a solid partnership. The pair added 63 runs before left-armer Xavier Doherty bowled a lovely tossed up delivery which literally dragged Mahela Jayawardene out of his crease and beat him with the turn. Jayawardene (85 from 81 balls with 6 fours and a six) looking to push at that was stranded out of his crease to get stumped leaving SL at 153 for 3 in 26.2 overs.
Sri Lanka were fortunate enough to get another good partnership to consolidate their situation. This time they got a stand of 49 runs for the 4th wicket between Chandimal and the left-handed Thirimanne which took SL past 200. Lahiru Thirimanne scored 24 (from 31 balls) before he got out trying out an adventurous paddle sweep off Christian to get caught at short fine leg.
The match was nicely poised with Sri Lanka at 202 for 4 in 36.5 overs. Dinesh Chandimal (80 from 100 balls with 7 fours) took his chances to get the equation down but in the 45th over lost his wicket trying out a risky flick shot after shuffling far too across and getting hit on the pad by a Ryan Harris yorker. The homeside got back strongly in the game by reducing SL to 250 for 6 in 45.5 overs when Farveez Maharoof fell cheaply hooking a rising delivery from Christian half-heartedly to square fine leg.
The stage was set for SL’s bright all-rounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera to finish the game with 31 needed from 25 balls. Mathews scored a crucial 24 (from 31 balls) to play his part before he got out in the penultimate over when he lofted a slower one from Christian into the hands of wide long off. With 14 more runs to win from 9 balls, Thisara Perera whacked a four and a six to the legside in the same over leaving Sri Lanka with just three for a win from the final over. The tall left-hander settled the matter for Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 21 from 11 balls with 2 fours and a six.
Xavier Doherty was once again the pick of the bowlers for the hosts giving away only 35 runs besides taking the big wicket of Jayawardene in his 10 overs. For his sweet knock of 85 from 81 balls, Skipper Mahela Jayawardene got the Man of the Match award.