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43rd Match, Super Eights: Australia v Sri Lanka at St George's - Apr 16, 2007

The blonde assassin

Nathan Bracken doesn't look threatening. He jogs in, a head-band holding his wavy hair, before releasing the ball without much fuss. Many a batsman has been lulled into making a fatal mistake. Today it was the turn of the Sri Lankans in a contest billed as a possible curtain raiser to the final. Bracken nagged them with a strangling line and length, at times bending the ball back in and making others go with the angle. Bracken led the bowling effort with an outstanding spell, ending with 4 for 19.

He removed both the left-handed openers early; he took one away from Sanath Jayasuriya before bringing the next in to trap him in front. Similarly, Upul Tharanga, the other opener, was set up nicely. Two inswingers had the left-hander groping forward before one left him, taking a bit of outside edge. He bottled up Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva as Australia tightened the noose around Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka attempted to break free in the third Powerplay with a few lusty hits. Jayawardene and Chamara hit out and runs were beginning to come through in boundaries. Ponting brought back Bracken and he responded with a tight over, giving away a solitary run. He came back in the death, was frugal, and picked up couple of wickets. Sri Lanka had spluttered to 226 and without Muralitharan and Vaas, it was not going to be enough. It wasn’t. Bracken had, coolly and calmly, done the job for Australia. Yet again.