Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene praises Angelo Mathews for his efforts, but slams team for errors after losing to Australia by five runs
Australian captain Michael Clarke's inspired start to 2012 continued when he led his side to victory over Sri Lanka in their tri-series ODI at the WACA ground yesterday. Man of the match Clarke had an impact with both bat and ball as Australia won by five runs to remain unbeaten after two outings in the triangular series. Australia made 231 from 49.1 overs and in reply Sri Lanka was dismissed for 226 from 49.5 overs, after a last-wicket stand almost snatched an unlikely win for the tourists.
Angelo Mathews lifts one during tri-series match against Australia at Perth yesterday. Pic/AFP
The Sri Lankans appeared to do a good job with the ball after captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and elected to field, Clarke top scoring with a polished 57. However, last year's beaten World Cup finalists were not as effective with the bat and looked headed for certain defeat at 180 for nine, still needing 51 to win. But Angelo Mathews and Dhammika Prasad put on 46 for the last wicket to threaten to snatch an incredible win.
Mathews said he felt like they would snatch the win. "We were just one shot away, but unfortunately we couldn't make it." Clarke admitted the Australians nearly paid the price for what he believed was a below-par performance with the bat. "We were 30 runs short of what we should have scored on that wicket... "A lot of credit needs to go to our bowlers, for the first 45 overs we bowled beautifully."
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene was critical about his team's show. "We made a few mistakes, couple of lost catches, we made too many mistakes, we didn't deserve to win the match," a disappointed Jayawardene said. "Great effort from Angelo, but we gave away too many wickets in the middle overs to lose our way. We did the hard work with the ball, but we did not get a couple of big stands with the bat," he said.
The Sri Lankans appeared to be cruising at 61-1, but suffered a major blow when Kumar Sangakkara was run out for 22 in an ugly mix-up with opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (40). They found it hard to recover from the loss of their most prolific batsman and Clarke's inspired season continued when he brought himself on for a rare bowl in the 31st over.
Dinesh Chandimal was on 37 and appeared to be Sri Lanka's last real hope of victory, but he was trapped leg before wicket by Clarke's first delivery. Australia have not lost in six matches, four Tests and two one-day internationals, this year under Clarke, their only defeat a T20 loss to India under the leadership of George Bailey. India will face Australia in the next tri-series match in Adelaide on Sunday.