By BV Swagath
Sri Lanka just managed to pull off a victory in the Gabba ODI despite the target being as low as 75! The pitch at the Gabba for the Third ODI was such that as many as 16 wickets tumbled down in less than 50 overs of action. There was plenty of steep bounce and zip in the Gabba wicket to make life miserable for the Aussies.
It perhaps was a bad decision from Clarke to bat first after winning the toss. David Warner started the downfall by slapping Angelo Mathews into the hands of mid off before Nuwan Kulasekara took five wickets in a superb spell of 10 overs on the trot. Kulkasekara had Hughes caught in the slips, Hussey under edging a cut shot to the keeper, Bailey lbw offering no shot to an inswinger, Michael Clarke and Moises Henriques bowled through the gate by big indippers which left the Aussies reeling at 30 for 6 in 11.3 overs.
Lasith Malinga joined the party after Kulasekara’s destructive spell to help Sri Lanka clean up Australia for just 74 in 26.4 overs. Fortunately it wasn’t Australia’s lowest ever total in ODIs which remains the 70 they scored against England. The run chase was expected to be a cakewalk for Sri Lanka but they made a mess of it by attempting too many shots.
Mahela Jayawardene got caught by the diving point in the first over. After a slight lull, Mitchell Johnson removed Dilshan caught in the slips, Thirimanne slashing him into the hands of point and Mathews fending off a nasty lifter off his face. Sri Lanka slipped to 37 for 4 to keep the Aussies interested in the contest. After the break, Sri Lanka lost two wickets to Mitchell Starc but got to the target in 20 overs. Kushal Perera batted well under the hostile bowling to score a crucial unbeaten 22 (from 28 balls).
Toss and Teams: Australia have won the toss and elected to bat first in the Third ODI at the Gabba in Brisbane. The hosts are strengthened with the return of Skipper Michael Clarke and David Warner. Matthew Wade takes over from the injured Brad Haddin. The bowling also gets a boosting with the inclusion of the left-arm quicks Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc. All-rounder Moises Henriques gets a game as well.
For the Lankans, Dinesh Chandimal continues to miss the action because of an injury and there is one change in the line-up with fast bowler Shaminda Eranga coming in for Ajantha Mendis. The 5-match series is nicely poised at 1-1 following Sri Lanka’s crushing win in the Second ODI at the Adelaide Oval.
Australia: David Warner, Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke (C), David Hussey, George Bailey, Matthew Wade (WK), Moises Henriques, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Mahela Jayawardene (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kushal Perera (WK), Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga, Lasith Malinga