With the Commonwealth Bank Series against Sri Lanka starting tomorrow, lets take a look back at some of the great games between the two teams.
12 February 2006
Sri Lanka went into the second game of the 2005-06 VB Series Finals knowing that a win would seal a rare triumph on Australian soil. After having dominated game one in Adelaide, things looked set to continue when Chamdina Vaas ripped through the Australian top order to leave the hosts reeling at 3-10.
Rather than try to weather the storm, Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds decided to take on the Sri Lankans. The brutal onslaught shocked the tourists, whose firm grip on the game was shaken up in 40 overs of Australian assault. The pair combined for a record Australian stand of 237, with Ponting (124) and Symonds (151) sending the packed SCG into raptures. The duo took a particular liking to spin king Muttiah Muralitthiran, whose 10 overs went for a record 99 runs.
Things could have been very different when Mahela Jayawardene claimed to have caught the Australian skipper on 57. However, replays proved inconclusive. Even when the pair were removed, Michael Clarke (54* off 28) and Mike Hussey (23* off 8) picked up where they left off, helping Australia post 5-368, their highest ever ODI score against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka was always going to struggle when Sanath Jayasuriya fell for a duck. Nathan Bracken was the star with the ball, claiming 4-30. Jayawardene and Russell Arnold gave the tourists some hope with a pair of half centuries, but three wickets for just two runs put an end to the fight back. Australia won the match by 167 runs, and with momentum on their side, was never headed in the third game at the Gabba.
3 November 2010
The 2010-11 ODI series started at the MCG with Australia expected to have no problems against Sri Lanka. At the halfway mark of the visitors’ innings, things looked to be going to plan. However, Angelo Matthews and Lasith Malinga had other ideas, combining for a record ninth wicket partnership that offers lingering nightmares to Michael Clarke and co.
The game had started poorly for the hosts, with Thisara Perera picking up his second career five-wicket haul, including the wickets of Clarke, Haddin and White in the space of seven deliveries. Mike Hussey (71* off 91) was the star with the bat, as he patiently worked his way around the wide expanses of the MCG. The final total (8-239) probably flattered the Australians, who knew quick wickets would be their only path to victory.
The hosts started perfectly, removing both openers inside six overs. Debutant Xavier Doherty (4-46) then ripped through the middle order, including the key wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakarra, putting Australia in an unassailable position. Or so it seemed.
At 8-107 after 25 overs, even the most ardent of Sri Lankan fans would have doubted their side’s chances of victory. Enter the odd couple. Matthews (77*) provided the grace, while Malinga (56) offered reckless bravado. What more could you want. The pair plundered the Australian attack to all parts of the MCG, leaving Michael Clarke stunned, silenced and then shattered. The 132-stand ended with the scores level, but the damage had already been done. By the time Murali hit the winning run, the predominantly Sri Lankan crowd was partying like Colombo in the 90s.
28 April 2007
Australia headed into the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup final having won their past 28 matches at the tournament. Bad weather delayed the start of the match, reducing the spectacle to 38 overs per side. Needing quick runs, Adam Gilchrist (149 off 104) played arguably the innings of his life, smashing all and sundry on his way to the highest score by any player in a World Cup final. It was one of the most incredible knocks you will ever see, with the left-hander taking no prisoners in two hours of sheer brutality. It was later revealed that Gilchrist had batted with a squash ball in his glove that provided extra control for his high grip.
To highlight the enormity of the effort, Gilchrist shared an opening stand of 172 with big-hitting Matthew Hayden, who could only add 38. Ricky Ponting, who scored an equally breathtaking 140 in the 2003 final, said "To go out and do that in a World Cup final and play 149 off 104 balls and hardly miss the middle of the bat for most of the day, it's an unbelievable innings”. The team finished with 4-281 off just 38 overs.
Sri Lanka did its best to stay in the contest, moving along to 1-123 inside 20 overs. However the loss of Jayasuriya (63) and Sangakarra (54) put an end to proceedings. The bowlers shared the wickets around, with surprise packet Michael Clarke the only man to pick up two.
The match ended in somewhat farcical scenes, with rain and poor light prompting the umpires to reschedule the final three overs for the following day. Both captains decided to keep playing, leaving fans to only guess what happened in the West Indian darkness. For the record, Australia won by 53 runs on the D/L method. Adam Gilchrist was unsurprisingly named Man of the Match.
17 March 1996
After having dominated Sri Lanka during the previous Australian summer, many expected the trend to continue when the two sides met in the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup Final in Lahore. The match held extra spice after Australia opted against traveling to Colombo for their first match of the tournament.
Australia batted first in overcast conditions and couldn’t have asked for a better start with Mark Taylor (74) and Ricky Ponting (45) pushing the score to 1-134 after 25. However, the Sri Lankans, who had an intimate knowledge of the ground, employed spinner after spinner to slow the Aussie charge. Muralitharan (1-31) provided the economy, while Aravinda de Silva (3-42) did the damage. After being in control at the halfway mark of their innings, the Australians were lucky to finish with 7-241 thanks to Michael Bevan’s late hitting.
The Sri Lankans were keen for one of their patented fast starts but disaster struck when both Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana fell for single figures. The Australian side was stocked heavily with swing bowlers. Unfortunately, they hadn’t accounted for a sodden outfield which rendered their tactics useless. Sri Lanka’s middle-order was stacked with experience, and it was that man de Silva who would once again shine. His 107* laid the platform for the victory, with the all-rounder taking a particular liking to Shane Warne’s bowling. He was well supported by Gurusinha (65) and Ranatunga (47*).
It was a comfortable win in the end, with the Sri Lankans cruising home with seven wickets in hand. It remains one of the most memorable moments in Sri Lanka’s history, with few people giving Dav Whatmore’s side much hope against the formidable Australians.
18 March 2003
One of the most memorable moments in the Australia-Sri Lanka rivalry took place in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final in Port Elizabeth. Australia entered the match as the unbeaten favourites and had already smashed their opponents a week earlier.
Australia batted first and raced to 0-34 after just five overs. Adam Gilchrist looked set to emulate the whirlwind 99 he scored against Sri Lanka earlier in the Super Sixes. However when the spin of Aravinda de Silva was introduced in the sixth over, cricket witnessed one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship imaginable. The left-handed opener attempted a sweep show that ballooned straight to Kumar Sangakarra. Despite a huge appeal, Rudi Koertzen shook his head. Incredibly, and to the disbelief of the billions of viewers, the Sri Lankans and some of his teammates, Gilchrist walked. It was a stunning moment of class from the Australian that earned him universal praise.
At the time, his teammates must have hated the decision, as Australia slumped to 3-51. Andrew Symonds was the hero with the bat, smashing an unbeaten 91* to guide Australia to a below par 212.
They needn’t have worried, as the Australian quick bowlers tore through the Sri Lankan top-order to justify Gilchrist’s decision to walk. By the time Andy Bichel brilliantly ran de Silva out off his own bowling, the match was over.
Australia won by 48 runs on the D/L method and stormed on to smash India in the Final. To this day, people still talk about the bravery and honour in Gilchrist’s decision to walk on the grandest stage. It highlights the integrity in which he played the game and typifies why he was one of the most loved players in the game by teammates and opponents alike.
First Posted 10 January, 2013 4:20PM AEST