Warner heroics hurt spirited Sri Lanka
David Warner struck a magnificent century and Australia held off late Sri Lanka resistance to claim a dramatic 15-run victory at Brisbane in the first of the Commonwealth Bank Series finals.
The 25-year-old left-hander smashed 13 fours and two maximums in his 163 from 157 balls and was well supported by fellow opening batsman Matthew Wade, who made 64, as Australia posted an imposing 321 for six.
After Brett Lee and David Hussey claimed three wickets each to reduce Sri Lanka to 144 for six in the 31st over, the hosts looked to be coasting to a comfortable win.
But an incredible chain of events saw Nuwan Kulasekara blast seven fours and three sixes in a 43-ball 73, sharing in an 11-over partnership of 104 with Upul Tharanga, who made 60, to give the tourists a chance of pulling off an unlikely victory.
Even when Kulasekara departed with 74 still required from the final nine overs, Dhammika Prasad continued the onslaught with an unbeaten 31 from 21 deliveries but, as Sri Lanka edged closer to their target, Shane Watson returned to claim the final three wickets, ending the fightback in the final over when 16 were needed.
After winning the toss, Australia got off to a fine start with Warner and Wade both moving past 50 in an opening stand of 136. The latter, who struck a quartet of fours and a maximum, fell to a splendid one-handed catch from a back-tracking Rangana Herath at long-on.
Warner shared a fifty partnership with Watson, who made 21 before picking out Lahiru Thirimanne at deep square-leg off Farveez Maharoof.
Warner went to his first one-day international century from 111 balls but, as Australia upped the ante, they lost two wickets in quick succession. Dan Christian edged Prasad behind to Kumar Sangakkara and Hussey returned a sharp catch to Herath.
But Warner and captain Michael Clarke added late impetus with an alliance of 64, the captain making 37 from 25 deliveries before mis-timing a Lasith Malinga slower ball straight to Mahela Jayawardene at midwicket.
Mike Hussey hit two sixes in a late cameo, which saw him make an unbeaten 19 from 10 deliveries, before Warner’s mammoth innings ended when he was bowled by Prasad from the final ball of the innings.
Sri Lanka started their reply positively, but were soon pegged back by impressive spells from paceman Lee and spinner David Hussey. With 39 on the board in the fifth over, Lee brought the edge from Jayawardene before bowling Tillakaratne Dilshan for 27.
Dinesh Chandimal sliced Hussey to James Pattinson at backward point to depart for 14 and they soon slipped to 114 for four, with Sangakkara - who made 42 - mis-timing a Lee delivery to Watson at mid-off.
And when Hussey removed Thirimanne and Maharoof in quick succession, Sri Lanka looked to be dead and buried.
However, Kulasekara and Tharanga had other ideas, the former taking a particular liking to off-colour seamers Ben Hilfenhaus and Pattinson.
Hussey, who claimed 4-43, returned to end Kulasekara’s fireworks and, when the experienced Tharanga holed out to Hussey at long-off, it was left to the tailenders to find 36 runs from the four overs.
Prasad tried his best but ran out of partners as Watson wrapped up the innings with the dismissals of Herath and Malinga in the penultimate and final over.