Hughes ton salvages draw
Phil Hughes’ second hundred in just his fifth one-day international earned Australia a 2-2 share of the series with Sri Lanka.
Hughes, whose first format ton came on ODI debut in the opening game of the rubber, made a measured 138 to underpin the hosts’ 247 for five at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart.
Three wickets each for Xavier Doherty and Moises Henriques then helped dismiss the tourists, for whom Angelo Mathews top-scored on 67, with nine balls unused and complete a 32-run win.
With home captain Michael Clarke missing the match due to an ankle injury suffered in training yesterday, Hughes anchored the batting effort from number three.
The left-hander curbed his natural enthusiasm early but blossomed late in the innings, reaching three figures in 132 deliveries and finishing unbeaten on 138 from 154 balls with 13 fours and a six over midwicket.
Stand-in skipper George Bailey lost the toss before seeing David Warner, bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan, and Matthew Wade, lbw to Nuwan Kulasekara for 23, fall in the compulsory powerplay.
Bailey supported Hughes for more than 16 overs but was caught and bowled for 17 by Thisara Perera. However, David Hussey proved another willing ally and added 98 with Hughes, who went to his century in the same over his parter was run out by bowler Perera.
Lasith Malinga’s slower ball caused Glenn Maxwell to top-edge to extra-cover, yet Hughes saw the hosts to an impressive total.
In a role reversal of sorts, Mahela Jayawardene leapt from the blocks early in the chase, hitting three boundaries from Clint McKay's third over to race beyond 30 before Dilshan had made it to double figures.
The captain's cameo 38 was up when Doherty lured him into a false drive that was safely pouched at mid-on. Lahiru Thirimanne followed in Doherty's next over, caught in the deep.
Henriques was introduced to immediate effect, nipping one away from Dilshan who edged behind to go for 19.
When Dinesh Chandimal was bowled by Doherty, Sri Lanka had fallen to 77 for four and all 8,102 spectators - as well as the Sri Lanka camp - could see the writing on the wall.
Mathews tried hard to form meaningful partnerships with Kushal Perera and Jeevan Mendis, the latter stand reaching 79, through the middle overs but the breakthroughs from Henriques and Mitchell Johnson put paid to any hope of a Sri Lanka comeback and settled Australian nerves.
Needing to score at nine an over for the final 15, Sri Lanka tried to lift the tempo with a series of boundaries during their powerplay, but the task proved too great as the required run-rate continued to climb.
The lower order went down swinging and, despite a much improved performance in the one-day arena following a disappointing Test tour, the tourists will feel little consolation after letting the prospect of a series win slip so early in the run-chase.