Indian hopes for playing the finals of the Commonwealth Bank Series scrambled as Sri won the last thrilling encounter against Australia by nine runs. The Blue Shirts were holding back in Australia with the hope that the hosts will emerge winners in the 12th game but now they have to pack their suit cases and rush back home.
The Lankan Lions were bowled out for a meagre score of 238 runs in the metered 50 overs and they sent the Kangaroos back to the pavilion for 229 runs with five balls to spare.
The young Lion Dinesh Chandimal was declared ‘Player of the match’ for his courageous knock of 75 runs off 84 balls.
The 12th and final pool match was organised at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, on March 2, 2012.
Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and went in to bat with Tillakaratne Dilshan and they had a dismal start when both were gone for 17 runs in five overs. The rock of the team Kumar Sangakkara and the emerging sensation in the cricket world, Dinesh Chandimal started fighting back. They kept the score board ticking while securing their wickets and put up a nice battle.
The tempo of scoring was enhanced and the hundred of the innings was achieved in the 22nd over as both posted their fifties three overs later. They consolidated the position of the visitors and took the score to 140 when Sangakkara became the second victim of James Pattinson for 64 runs.
Chandimal kept the hopes high for the Lankans and had a nice support from the newcomer Lahiru Thirimanne who did not take any risks at the other end. Pattinson struck again when Chandimal was caught at mid off by Clint McKay for 75 scored on 84 balls with two sixes and 3 fours after the duo added 46 runs.
Thririmanne secured one end as the wickets started crumbling at the other end which included a hat trick from Daniel Christian in the 44th over. Thiriminne was the 9th batsman who went back to the pavilion when Pattinson clean bowled him for 51 as their innings was folded back at 238 runs in 50 overs.
Christian was the star performer with the ball with five wickets and James Pattinson held four.
The Kangaroos had a miserable start by losing three top order batsmen for just 26 runs in five overs, Lasith Malinga penetrated twice and Nuwan Kulasekara once. The stand in Captain Shane Watson and the experienced Michael Hussey steadied the ship and skilled batting was witnessed from them.
The journey towards destination was continued by them and they accumulated 87 runs partnership for the fourth wicket. Michael Hussey lost his wicket for 29 runs when he was caught smartly by Sangakkara behind the wicket on the bowling of Thiriminne.
The fourth wicket fell at 113 as David Hussey joined in with the reliable Watson and the offensive kept going. Their association added 27 runs when Watson was bowled excellently by the in swinging Yorker from Malinga for 65 off 83 balls with 5 fours.
The man of crises in the series for the Aussies, David Hussey took over the game single handed as there was a panic among the batsmen at the other end. Pattinson was the only batsman who entered in the double figure from the late order batsmen.
Hussy achieved his attacking fifty on the first ball of the 45th over off 58 balls with 4 fours while dispatching a boundary. The home side had lost eight wickets for 216 runs at the end of the 47th over and required 23 runs from the last three overs. The ninth wicket was gone in the 49th over and Australia was 10 runs away from victory with six balls remaining.
Kulasekara was rewarded with the golden wicket of Hussey on the first ball of the last over when he was caught at long off by Dilshan for 74 off even balls with one six and 4 fours. The whole Australian side was bundled out for 229 runs in 49.1 overs in an exciting encounter.
Malinga was the chief destroyer with four wickets, Kulasekara claimed two as Sachithra Senanayake Lahiru Thirimanne and Rangana Herath shared one wicket each.
Jayawardene marshalled his troops superbly and his field placing, bowling changes and acrobatic fielding from his fielders earned the Lankan Lions much deserving success and shattered the dreams of team India for playing the finals.