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Aiwa Cup 4th Match: Sri Lanka v Australia
Sa'adi Thawfeeq - 26 August 1999

Australia in another win

World champions Australia proved relentless as they steam-rolled their way into the final of the Aiwa Cup tri-nation one-day tournament beating Sri Lanka by 27 runs in the day-night match played at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday.

Australia who chose to bat first after winning the toss hit up 241 for 9 wickets off 50 overs, but Sri Lanka refused to go down tamely and fought all the way before being finally bowled out for 214 in 47.1 overs.

Once again Sri Lanka excelled on the field, but their top order with the exception of Russell Arnold failed and Australia's total suddenly became one of immense proportions.

Arnold made 41 and 19-year old Chamara Silva from Panadura SC a half-century on his one-day debut. Only one other Sri Lankan had made a fifty on debut in limited over Internationals and that was in the inaugural World Cup match against Australia at the Oval in 1975 when the eldest of the Wettimuny brothers, Sunil made 53 before he was forced to retire hurt after fast bowler Jeff Thomson had injured his ankle with two unplayable deliveries. Thomson is currently a TV commentator for the on-going series.

What Australia have shown us in the competition is that they have the bowlers to strangle if not bowl out any side regardless of what totals they achieve. Yesterday they ran up the highest total in the competition and defended it superbly with attacking fields.

Overall, Australia's outcricket is attack and demoralise the opposition. This they do with great perfection. On current form both Sri Lanka and India don't look like giving Australia the kind of opposition strong enough to beat them. Sri Lanka are going through a transitional period of rebuilding their side from the World Cup debacle, while India are currently out of sorts, but with a batting order that is capable of turning things over if they play true to form.

From the moment Ricky Ponting whose fielding is compared alongside South Africa's Jonty Rhodes latched on brilliantly to skipper Sanath Jayasuriya's pet cut shot at point, Sri Lanka's chances of making any headway became very limited.

The Australians showed it was not only the Sri Lankans who could be accurate with their throws on the field but they were marginally or if not better, affecting three run outs which broke the back of the inexperienced line-up.

The Australians never allowed any batsmen to settle down and play a long innings - the only two of any value coming from the bats of Russell Arnold and debutante Chamara Silva.

Arnold reinstated to the side after quite some time, batted sedately as wickets tumbled around him to score 41 off 62 balls without striking a single boundary.

Nineteen-year-old Silva from Panadura showed what a load of talent he had by going onto make a half century on his debut. Not only did Australia take wickets, but they also dried Sri Lanka of any boundaries. Jayasuriya scored the first in the middle of the third over, and the next didn't come until the middle of the 29th when Silva swept leg-spinner Shane Warne for successive boundaries.

Arnold and Silva added 39 for the fifth wicket before a run out ended their liaison. Arnold was found well short of his ground when Ponting threw the stumps down with a direct hit from point. Romesh Kaluwitharana also fell victim of a run out when he was helping Silva add 27 for the sixth wicket.

Chaminda Vaas slogged the bowling for 28 balls scoring 23 out of a seventh wicket partnership of 43 with Silva before hitting across to Martyn.

Earlier, Sri Lanka came back strongly against world champions Australia to capture six wickets for 81 runs to leave themselves with an asking rate of 4.84 for victory.

Australia who won the toss and chose to bat first finished on 241 for 9 off 50 overs after looking at one time within reach of a 275 plus total.

Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist put on 83 off 15 overs to set Australia towards a massive total, but Sri Lanka pulled back in the middle overs to redress the balance and leave themselves with a chance of beating Australia and ensuring a place in Tuesday's final.

Sri Lanka have two points from two games, and Australia who are virtually through have four points from the same number of matches,. India the third team in the seven-match competition have no points from two matches.

Mark Waugh hit a classy 84 off 94 balls with five fours before being fifth out for 167 in the 34th over. His dismissal led to an Australian collapse.

Waugh looked in sight of a century when he lost his concentration and top edged a catch to extra cover attempting to pull against the leg-spin of Upul Chandana.

Gilchrist made 38 off 50 balls with one six and one four before lofting a catch off part-time bowler Mahela Jayawardene to Muthiah Muralitharan at mid-off.

Ricky Ponting, Darren Lehman and Steve Waugh all lost their wickets to ambitious shots as the Sri Lanka spinners extracted a lot of turn from the pitch used for Wednesday's game against India.

Leg-spinner Chandana and off-spinner Muralitharan shared six wickets between them while the other two wickets were taken by part time bowlers Arnold and Jayewardene.

Sri Lanka's excellent performance on the field was marred by wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwaitharana dropping Ponting at one and failing to stump Bevan before he had scored. However, the two lapses did not prove costly.

Source: The Daily News