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CB Series goes to the wire

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Tillakaratne Dilshan

Tillakaratne Dilshan is applauded for his 106, which all but ensured victory for the tourists and a decider at the same venue on Thursday

Sri Lanka took an enthralling Commonwealth Bank Series to the deciding match it thoroughly deserves with an emphatic eight-wicket demolition of Australia at the Adelaide Oval.

The tourists needed victory in the last round-robin game to reach the finals and today responded to a narrow defeat on Sunday to set up a winner-takes-all contest on Thursday in Adelaide.

That they overhauled the hosts’ 271 for six with 6.4 overs to spare owed much to an opening partnership of 179 from Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, who each benefited from a let-off in making 80 and 106 respectively.

Jayawardene was caught behind via a no-ball from Clint McKay, Australia’s only change from Sunday, in the second over of the reply and Dilshan was given not out on 77 after palpably edging Shane Watson behind.

Hundreds from David Warner, who followed his one-day international-best 163, and Michael Clarke gave Australia a good chance of wrapping up the series without the need for a decider. The fourth-wicket pair put on 184 before Warner fell for 100 and Clarke departed for 117.

However, having managed 306 in defeat at Brisbane two days earlier thanks principally to middle and lower-order contributions, the class of Sri Lanka’s top order made amends for their sloppiness in the field.

Like on Sunday, Clarke opted to bat first but Warner and Matthew Wade could not repeat their century opening stand as Dilshan, who took the new ball, bowled the latter for 14.

Although Watson was twice dropped off Farveez Maharoof, it did not prove costly when Maharoof swooped on a leg-side single to run him out at the striker’s end with a direct hit.

Warner, who overcame a groin strain to play, smote Maharoof for a 99-metre maximum over long-on before knuckling down in alliance with Clarke and going to 50 from 69 deliveries.

The batting powerplay, taken in the 32nd over, yielded 37 and included the hundred partnership and Clarke’s 52-ball fifty. The skipper then upped the ante, slog-sweeping Rangana Herath for six immediately before being dropped at extra-cover on 71.

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke goes aerial during a ton that accompanied another from David Warner and gave Australia hope of series victory today

Four consecutive boundaries off Maharoof, the first first palmed over the leg-side rope and third a straight six, saw Clarke overtake Warner.

Clarke was the first to three figures, from 81 balls, and - once Warner had emulated the landmark from 57 more - the opener holed out at deep cover off Lasith Malinga, who bowled Mike Hussey in his next over.

Between those dismissals, Clarke, who was struggling with hamstring trouble, took Herath for another leg-side maximum. The spinner exacted some revenge on by running him out with a direct hit from midwicket.

In the same position, Herath shelled David Hussey, who was bowled by Malinga from the last ball of the innings as the paceman finished with 3-40 from 10 overs.

With Jayawardene reprieved by McKay overstepping, Dilshan set the tone for the pursuit with a trio of early boundaries. Jayawardene hit James Pattinson for two consecutive fours in a 74-run mandatory powerplay.

Dilshan and Jayawardene continued to their smooth progress, reaching half-centuries from 56 and 50 balls respectively.

Jayawardene swept Dan Christian for the only six of the innings but, after umpire Asad Rauf reprieved Dilshan, was trapped in front by Pattinson.

Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara eschewed risk, the former reaching his ton from 108 balls, before the batting powerplay was forced upon them. Sangakkara went on the attack and, attempting to follow suit, Dilshan holed out to deep midwicket off Brett Lee.

With 30 from those fielding restrictions, Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal eased Sri Lanka close to their target. The former completed victory and a 57-ball fifty by swinging Watson to the midwicket boundary.

Australia have added batsman George Bailey and off-spinner Nathan Lyon to their squad for Thursday’s game. Clarke will undergo scans on his hamstring tomorrow.