Dilshan Amazing in Upset Win

Four run-outs and a catch by Tillakaratne Dilshan saw the Sri Lankans score a surprise 22-run win over Australia at Adelaide tonight and take a 1-0 series win in the VB Series finals. Arriving in Australia after three defeats out of four matches in New Zealand, most predicted that Sri Lanka would be lucky to win more than one match in the triangular tournament also involving South Africa. But riding on a wave of confidence and self-belief possibly originating from Sanath Jayasuriya’s blistering hundred in Sydney returning to the team after an absence through injury, and tonight from the brilliance of Dilshan, Sri Lanka have had a wonderful tournament and are now just one win away from the VB Series trophy.

Marvan Attapattu, after having gained the early advantage through winning the toss and choosing to bat, continued his overdue return to the top of the order as he walked out with Jayasuriya over the barren outfield to the middle of the Adelaide Oval. Jayasuriya got them off to a flyer, taking 12 off the fourth over of the match, including a big six over square leg. Attapattu was slightly more reserved as the Sri Lankans cruised along at five an over. Jayasuriya continued to score in excess of a run a ball until, on 25 and with the team’s score at 44, he picked out Brad Hogg in the outfield going for another big hit off Stuart Clark.

Attapattu gradually increased the tempo as his innings progressed, bringing up a solid half-century which proved he had been slightly wasted in the lower middle order. Hogg continued his good day shortly after the milestone had been reached however, following his good catch to dismiss Jayasuriya up with a great delivery that fooled Attapattu and made contact with his off stump.

Kumar Sangakkara played a brilliant anchor role, seeing the wickets of Attapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, who was out to a stunning caught and bowled by Clark after the ball crashed into his stomach, and Russel Arnold fall around him as he patiently accumulated his runs. In a slightly uncharacteristic innings that included just three fours and a six, Sangakarra scored 83 from 106 and set the platform for the blast which was to follow. When he was dismissed early in the 45th over, the score was 212-5, with 250 looking as good a score as they could reasonably expect and Australia seemed well on top, as 250 was seemingly well within their capabilities.

But that wicket brought 18 year old Chamara Kapugedara, playing just his third match, to the crease. In a 58 run partnership from just 32 balls with Dilshan, Kapugedara slammed 38 from 21 balls in an innings that featured two fours and three sixes, an innings that in combination with Dilshan’s 20-ball 26 with two sixes guided Sri Lanka through to the challenging total of 274-8.

The chase could not have begun much better for Australia, with Simon Katich starting comfortably as always and Adam Gilchrist taking the same plan of action as Jayasuriya did earlier in the day. The score reached 50 in the first ten overs without a wicket falling, but just when it looked as if Gilchrist was set to destroy Sri Lanka’s hopes of winning the opening match of the finals he, like Jayasuriya, went for a big hit only to pick out a man in the outfield, Arnold taking the catch to dismiss the Australian wicketkeeper for 26 from 27 balls.

From then on it was all Dilshan. A shocking mixup saw Katich and Ricky Ponting at the same end, Dilshan with his easiest run out of the day, dislodging the bails with the Australian captain not having faced a single ball. It wasn’t much longer before Damien Martyn followed for just one, this time a much more spectacular performance by Dilshan with a one-handed pick up of the ball and a direct hit. The celebrations from the Sri Lankan players and the subdued Adelaide crowd all a new arrival to the ground needed to see and hear to know that things were not going too well for the home team.

Andrew Symonds made a promising start to his innings, smashing a huge six straight down the ground, but managed to score just 16 before being completely beaten by a brilliant ball, just the second of Muttiah Muralitharan’s spell. Symonds charged down the wicket and was beaten by flight, pace and turn, Sangakkara effecting an easy stumping to give the underdogs a crucial breakthrough.

Just when Mike Hussey was starting to look settled at the crease he had a rare chance to experience the lonely walk back after being dismissed, run out for 16 by none other than Dilshan after a lengthy lbw appeal against Michael Clarke created some confusion. It was just the ninth time Hussey has been out in 30 ODIs. When supersub James Hopes was out caught by…Dilshan for 3 and Brad Hogg caught by Jayasuriya for 1, the score was 166-8 with still more than 100 required at slightly more than a run a ball. With the spinners bowling so well and the fielder…or fielders doing such a good job, the odds were against Australia. The enthusiasm of the Sri Lankans, particularly since Dilshan’s remarkable run out of Martyn, was truly remarkable. There was a lot of encouragement for each other and committed fielding and running to positions between the overs. The Sri Lankans knew that they not only had a chance to win, but were in a position of being on top. A rare phenomenon in a one-day international against Australia at any time, let alone in Australia in the VB Series.

Clarke brought up his 50 and was well supported by Brett Lee, but the equation was becoming more and more demanding, exceeding ten an over. When Murali went through the defences of Lee for 19, the score 213-9, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Sri Lanka would win and take a 1-0 series lead.

It was all up to Clarke if Australia were to have the slightest chance of a miracle. After Bracken survived an over from Bandara which included an extremely close appeal for lbw, one which perhaps should have been given by umpire Harper, Clarke faced up to Nuwan Kulasekara. The first ball was a full toss which he smashed over mid on for a one-bounce four, a dot ball followed, then a poor ball went for four leg byes. By the end of the over 12 runs had been scored and there was still the slightest glimmer of hope for Australia, and they had at least got a lot closer than it looked like they would half an hour beforehand.

But Murali, with three wickets to his name, had one more over and Bracken was facing. The first ball was well played, a back foot cut for which Bracken got an all-run four. 43 from 23. But the over ended with three dot balls and two singles, 41 still required from just 18. When Jayasuriya conceded just three runs in the next over it was 36 from 12 and once again looking beyond the realms of possibility. 13 were scored off the 48th over, bowled by Chaminda Vaas, but with 23 needed off the last over Sri Lankan supporters could safely start their celebrations. And the next ball it ended, Nathan Bracken hitting the ball back to Jayasuriya who whipped off the bails at the non-striker’s end and found Michael Clarke short of his ground, his valiant 80 in a losing cause was an innings worthy of considerable praise.

But most of the praise should be awarded to the Sri Lankans. Sangakkara, Attapattu, Kapugedara, Murali, and most of all Dilshan. Dilshan had shown considerable ability in the cover point region in the past, but tonight’s display confirmed that he is among the finest fielders in world cricket. The one-handed run out of Martyn could be labelled as the one moment which lifted the confidence and self-belief of the team and set them on the path towards victory.

After tonight’s result Sri Lanka lead 1-0 in the best of three finals series, with Game 2 in Sydney on Sunday. If Australia are to win the trophy, there needs to be a 3rd and final match in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka 274-8
Kumar Sangakkara 83, Marvan Attapattu 53
Nathan Bracken 3-61, Stuart Clark 2-48

Sri Lanka won by 22 runs.

Australia 252
Michael Clarke 80, Simon Katich 56
Muttiah Muralitharan 3-40, Nuwan Kulasekara 1-47

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Tillakaratne Dilshan – 26*, four run outs, catch.

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