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The Electronic Telegraph Australia v Sri Lanka
The Electronic Telegraph - 25-29 January 1996

Day 1

Australia v Sri Lanka - 3rd Test: Waughs wrest initiative from Sri Lanka

By Ihithisham Kamardeen in Adelaide

THE Waugh twins supplied the highlights on a dour, rain-affected first day as Australia gradually wrested the initiative from Sri Lanka in the third and final Test at the Adelaide Oval yesterday.

At stumps Australia were 239 for five, but at least there had been none of the controversy that has dogged the Sri Lankan tour, despite the very smoke of the peace-pipe itself threatening to choke improved relations between the two countries on eve of the game.

The absence of captain Arjuna Ranatunga, with a fractured right hand, largely contributed to the peaceful day while Sri Lanka's decision not to risk off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was more than welcomed to crown this friendly contest.

Mark Waugh showed glimpses of his brilliance, producing a stylish 71 while Steve Waugh was 70 not out at the close - with wicketkeeper Ian Healy, on 21, shielding the side from a late evening collapse against the second new ball.

Australia's consolidating effort was largely possible thanks to an abysmal performance in the field by the Sri Lankans - four dropped catches and two overthrows for five. Wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana dropped two and caught three. Mark Waugh benefited from two of them before falling to a persistent leg-side trap, hooking.

Under gloomy skies and the constant threat of rain, left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas was the outstanding bowler, claiming out-ofform opener Michael Slater for a duck with the second ball of the match.

Slater was beaten for pace, Mark Taylor done by a short delivery that hurried on to him as he tried to pull, and later in the evening Ricky Ponting appeared unlucky to be adjudged caught behind to give Vaas three for 56 from 26 overs.

At one for one, 36 for two and 96 for three Australia looked in trouble. But David Boon, in his last Test, and Steve Waugh helped Mark Waugh save the day for Australia with third and fourthwicket stands.

Aravinda de Silva handled a team minus Arjuna, Roshan Mahanama and Muralitharan very astutely and had not those catches been dropped Taylor would have regretted his decision to bat first after preferring medium pacer Paul Reiffel to off-spinner Tim May.

Day 3

Reiffel keeps Sri Lanka on rack

Ihithisham Kamardeen at the Adelaide Oval

Third day of five: Australia (16-0 & 502-9d) lead Sri Lanka (317) by 201 runs

MEDIUM pace bowlers Paul Reiffel and Glenn McGrath injected some life into a weary Australian side in the final Test at the Adelaide Oval to keep alive their hopes of a 3-0 series whitewash of Sri Lanka.

The tourists, chasing Australia's first-innings 502 for nine declared, fell 185 runs short on 317, with Reiffel, who took five for 39 off 19.1 overs, taking his third five-wicket haul in his 21st Test appearance. It was his best return on Australian soil.

On a hard and bone dry pitch Australia struggled through the post lunch session to make inroads into the Sri Lankan batting. But their spirits surged as the shadows lengthened when McGrath (four for 91) took three wickets with the second new ball, two in three deliveries to put the home side in complete control.

Sri Lanka, though outpointed, remained impressively obstinate. In keeping with the theme of this summer series, the Sri Lankans again managed to summon a soul-searching effort just when they looked ready to be crushed.

The visitors were eight wickets down when they staggered past the follow-on mark at 303, thanks largely to a fighting 65 from Hashan Tillekeratne.

The Australian openers, Michael Slater and captain Mark Taylor, comfortably negotiated the final six overs and they will resume the second innings today with their side in a powerful position. They reached 16 by stumps, a lead of 201 with two days to play.

Late on the second day the Sri Lankan openers, Hathurusinghe and Jayasuriya, dug Australia firmly in the ribs with a solid stand of 80 off 16 overs. Reiffel was quick to check further progress by them early yesterday by taking both their wickets in his second over, the fourth of the morning.

It was the first time Warne had gone wicketless in an innings this summer but one suspects he may yet be Australia's secondinnings trump.

The appearance of Romesh Kaluwitharana made spectators sit bolt upright in anti- cipation of some dazzling strokeplay and once again the young player did not disappoint.

Kaluwitharana has declared his intention to score the fastest ever Test match century and he bats every innings accordingly. He looked perilously close to being leg before to McGrath on no score.

McGrath was shattered when umpire Lloyd Barker, who has made some curious decisions in this match, remained unmoved. But McGrath's loss was the crowd's gain as Kaluwitharana pulled Craig McDermott for six and then to the fence with a sumptuous square drive.

He swept Shane Warne for four and raced to 20 off his first 14 balls, and then took lunch on 30 off as many deliveries, including four fours and a six.

He added only one after lunch before Reiffel took his third wicket of the innings when he trapped Kaluwitharana leg before playing across the line.

Sanjeewa Ranatunga, younger brother of sidelined captain Arjuna, has barely played on tour and did well on this sparse diet of match practice to make a studied 60 in more than three hours.

It was the first time Warne had gone wicketless in an innings this summer but one suspects he may yet be Australia's secondinnings trump.

Sri Lanka's string of left-handed batsmen will not feel comfortable about the dark, wide rough marks which are becoming the targets for Warne's stock ball, the leg-spinner. He has already made several deliveries kick out the rough.

Day 4

Australia v Sri Lanka: Australia in position for Boon's final call

By Ihithisham Kamardeen in Adelaide

Fourth day of five: Sri Lanka (317 & 69-1) trail Australia (5029d & 215-6d) by 331 runs

AFTER receiving touching farewells from all over Australia, David Boon's last Test match wish is to roar his own from a bench top in a winning dressing room today.

A desire to hear the veteran batsman lead one last victory chant is the energising force which should spur a meandering Australia to a third-Test win against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, 69 for one, need 332 runs more for an unlikely victory after Australia set them 401 runs to win in a minimum of 111 overs.

But nothing is impossible as long as the free spirit of Sanath Jayasuriya continues to 'pinch-hit' as he has so far. He clob- bered 50 off 59 balls, hoisting Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne for a six and a boundary apiece off successive balls in another vi- brant display against an attack not featuring fast bowler Craig McDermott who has a minor rib injury.

Boon closed his retirement speech before the Test with the hope he would get one last chance to lead the side in its victory song.

After 11 years of hopping on the dressing room table to be chant leader, Boon's final duty as a Test player will be to appoint a team-mate in charge of the role he inherited from Rod Marsh.

``I'm looking forward to doing it one more time,'' Boon said yesterday while admitting he was in a bit of a quandry about who to appoint as his successor.

``Tomorrow is the day every cricketer dreads. It's hard to explain but the last day is going to be a big one and I'm just hoping we can win. I've been overwhelmed by a lot of well-wishes by way of fax. They have come from a lot of varied people all over Australia . . . magnificent,'' Boon said. Among those to contact him over the past two days were the electioneering Prime Minister Paul Keating and opposition leader John Howard.

Mark Taylor closed the second innings at 215 for six after Steve Waugh (61 not out) and Ian Healy had combined for another salvage operation with the Australians struggling on 122 for five.

Waugh with 170 in the first innings hoisted his series average to an extraordinary 362 and in the process became the 10th Australian to complete 5,000 runs, in his 81st Test. He batted for more than 10 hours in this match yet it is difficult to remember him playing a bad stroke.

Boon (35) crowned his last 92 minutes at the crease with some of strokes he will be best remembered for, such as the cover drive, two of them thundering into the Adelaide Oval pickets.

He was fortunate to survive a confident first-ball appeal when wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana thought he had him caught off the glove.

Boon all but confirmed the keeper's thoughts after stumps when he smiled in recollection of the incident and said ``it evens out, doesn't it?''

But there was no escaping dismissal from one of the balls of the summer, a Chaminda Vaas leg-cutter inducing Boon to get a touch as it darted across him for an edge.

The Sri Lankans clapped Boon off, the crowd stood and somewhere in the George Giffen stand Boon's wife Pip was offered a tissue by Stephanie Slater, Michael's wife. Boon is planning to play for at least two more seasons for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.

Day 5

Australia v Sri Lanka: Waugh settles issue as Taylor rejects claims

By Ihithisham Kamardeen in Adelaide

Final day: Australia (502-9d & 215-6d) beat Sri Lanka (317 & 252) by 148 runs

MARK TAYLOR, the Australian captain, yesterday expressed concern that his side have been unjustly branded as villains after a controversial summer which ended with peace and passion here.

Steve Waugh proved the inspiration as Australia capped an outstanding summer with a 148-run victory over Sri Lanka with 17 overs to spare in the third Test at the Adelaide Oval.

Following his innings of 170 and 61 not out, Waugh took four for 34 with his skidding medium pace. Waugh's ability to swing the old ball and make it cut off the pitch triggered Sri Lanka's slump from a seemingly safe 195 for two midway through the day.

Sri Lanka never recovered, losing eight for 37 after Waugh removed the stubborn Sanath Jayasuriya, whose innings of 112 was his first Test century.

Victory gave Australia the series 3-0 and the game marked David Boon's retirement from international cricket.

``I don't know where the buck stops. Do you blame the ACB, do you blame the ICC do you blame Australian cricket or Sri Lankan cricket?'' Taylor said in answer to the public criticism after a summer of upsets and disputes.

``People say there is problems between the Sri Lankan and the Australian cricket teams and that is not the case. They thought there was a problem between the sides because of the ball tampering and the throwing allegations. It's got nothing to do with the Australian cricket team,'' Taylor said.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk