ICC Champions Trophy- Australia v Sri Lanka: Bundled out without a win

Australia need to win this match and to win it well to have any chance of making it through to the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy. Sri Lanka are a very good one-day team though and are coming off a great 7 wicket win over England at The Oval a few days ago. I’m looking forward to a big night of cricket. My wife has given birth to our baby daughter earlier in the day. My two boys have been fed, bathed, read to and put to bed. I’ve taken the week off work, the beer fridge is full, there is a nice bottle of shiraz to be cracked at some stage and the cricket is on TV. Good times. Hopefully Australia can give me further reason to celebrate.

Stand in captain George Bailey wins the toss and sends Sri Lanka in, which is what we needed to happen so we could chase and know exactly what we needed to do. The Australian lineup is unchanged from the New Zealand game, Mitch Johnson takes the new ball and is impressive, taking the early wicket of Sri Lankan opener Perera. McKay dismisses Sangakkara, a huge wicket given the great left handers match winning knock of 134 not out in the Lankans previous match against the Poms. Dilshan and impressive young bat Thirimanne put on 72 for the 3rd wicket before a sharp turning ball from Doherty is edged to Watson at slip who takes a very good catch. If only the Tasmanian left arm orthodox spinner could have spun the ball like this in any of his 4 Test matches.

The Australians bowl pretty well but a fantastic unbeaten knock of 84 off 81 balls from former captain Mahela Jayawardene sets up a strong total of 8/253 off their 50 overs. It’s always a pleasure to sit up and watch Jayawardene, as it is his teamate Sangakkara, they rival Laxman and Lara as the most watchable batsmen of the last 20 years. Doherty bowls beautifully to be our best with the ball, taking 1/30 off 10 overs. For all his red ball struggles, he is a master at the shorter forms. Johnson is also good, taking 3/48.

Australia have to get their target quickly and are scoring well but losing regular wickets. Openers Watson and Hughes both fail, Maxwell has an impressive cameo of 32 off 20 balls but is bowled by the slinger Malinga when his country needed him to go on with it. It becomes 4/69 when a daydreaming Bailey is run out after dawdling down the pitch. Unforgivable by anyone, let alone a stand-in skipper. MJ Clarke shakes his head as he watches on the players balcony. Mitch Marsh is bowled by the gentle mediums of Sri Lankan skipper Mathews and we are 5/80. I remember his dismissal but not much after that, as the combined effects of a big day spent at the hospital, the highs of a child being born, a roaring wood heater and several Boags Draughts in celebration take its toll.

I wake up and we are 9/201. McKay and Doherty are stubbornly holding on as opposed to chasing the win. McKay is dismissed in the 43rd over for 30 off 58 balls and the game is over. Doherty is unbeaten on 15 from 37 balls. The number 1 ranked ODI team in the world is bundled out of the Champions Trophy winless. Clarke being out due to his back injury was a major loss but there are several holes in this team. I have the feeling our ODI fortunes will get worse before they get better. Hopefully I’m wrong. Our next ODI is against Scotland in Edinburgh on September 3rd. In the meantime there is the not so small matter of 5 Ashes Tests.

I’m writing this after watching the Socceroos defeat Iraq 1-0 to confirm our place in the next World Cup. What a nerve racking experience, a very late goal to Josh Kennedy sees us through. I’m rapt, full of the sort of pride I once reserved for our national cricket team. Soccer isn’t in my blood like cricket and Aussie Rules is but have become a big fan over the last 15 or so years. Just another sport to sit up at all hours to follow. A few more Boags Draughts watching this World Cup Qualifier. Haven’t opened that Shiraz yet. Maybe I’ll save it for the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge on July the 10th.

SRI LANKA 8/253 (Jayawardene 84*, Thirimanne 57, Dilshan 34, Johnson 3/48, Doherty 1/30) def.

AUSTRALIA 233 (Voges 49, Maxwell 32, McKay 30, Kulasekara 3/42, Herath 2/48)



3. Jayawardene (Sri Lanka)

2. Thirimanne (Sri Lanka)

1. Kulasekara (Sri Lanka)


About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

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