Batsmen fail Sri Lanka at crunch-time

CB Series: Sri Lanka V Australia 3rd Final at Adelaide Oval; 8th March 2012

Scores: Australia 231; Sri Lanka 215 (Australia won by 16 runs)

Everything seemed in place for Sri Lanka to win a series for the first time in Australia. They got a familiar pitch they’d be pleased to play on at home; the home crowds mostly stayed away while their own loyal non-resident fans showed up; they won the toss and got their preferred option of chasing; most of all, despite an alarming start, the bowling and fielding came off for the most part, reducing Australia to a gettable score – all of it vaguely reminiscent of the 1996 World Cup final.

But, whereas that 1996 batting order was formidable for its maturity under pressure, this one, despite three names that inspire almost similar awe on a career level, failed to combine effectively yet again.

Here is the match through the IMPACT prism.




Observations:

Three outstanding all-round efforts from Australia (two from primarily bowlers) ultimately could not be combated by one outstanding batting effort and two fine bowling performances from Sri Lanka.

Clint McKay (28 off 32, Batting IMPACT 1.49; 5 for 28 in 9.5 overs, Bowling IMPACT 5.83) was easily the highest impact player in the match. Besides the valuable runs he made on a slow pitch (with which he registered a Strike Rate IMPACT), he also destroyed Sri Lanka’s batting by taking key wickets at the beginning and in the end (registering a high Economy IMPACT and Pressure
Building IMPACT along the way). He was Man-of-the-Match by a distance and rightly received the award.

Shane Watson
(19 off 18 and 2-13 in 7 overs with a combined IMPACT of 4.70) and Brett Lee (32 off 54 and 3-59 in 8 overs with a combined IMPACT of 4.38) contributed significantly to Australia’s cause when their backs were to the wall.

Australian wicket-keeper Matthew Wade also registered an all-rounder’s IMPACT (1.20 as wicket-keeper and 2.68 as batsman). David Warner (48 off 45, Batting IMPACT 3.12) was the final high impact performer for Australia in the match, with an innings considerably different from his (uncharacteristic) previous one.

Daniel Christian failed to register an IMPACT of 1 in either batting or bowling but together mustered up a more-than-reasonable 1.68. David Hussey’s effort in the field just took him over an IMPACT of 1.

For Sri Lanka, Upul Tharanga’s was the stand-out performance – the highest impact batting effort of the match from both sides. His valiant 71 off 122 balls came under pressure (53-4, Pressure IMPACT 1.28) but unfortunately for his team could not see them through (it could be a very significant moment in his career depending on how he responds to it now). Lahiru Thirimanne successfully absorbed the same pressure but unfortunately fell for an inadequate 30.

Other than them, it was really the bowlers who carried the day for Sri Lanka. Farveez Maharoof (3-40 in 10 overs, IMPACT 4.12) and Rangana Herath (3-36 in 10 overs, IMPACT 3.44) led the way. Kulasekara (who eventually achieved an all-round IMPACT in the game) and Dilshan (who will wish he had done the same) supported those two well.

Kumar Sangakkara, who had clearly found his touch fully after a difficult period, threw it away with a poor shot when he was looking good, his 19 off 8 balls a peculiar out-of-context, out-of-character innings. It still had an IMPACT of 1.52 given the context of the match, and combined with his wicket-keeping, he eventually ended up with an all-round effort in the match.

More than anyone else, he will rue what could have been.

Interestingly, despite it being a low-scoring game, three bowlers failed to register any impact – the two Australian spinners Lyon and Doherty, and significantly Malinga – Sri Lanka’s second-highest impact bowler in ODI cricket history, disturbingly off-colour for too long.

Overall, Australia’s Team IMPACT in the match was 2.25 as compared to Sri Lanka’s 1.88. Australia, missing captain Clarke and key bowler Pattinson, still pulled off a tight performance with new players like McKay and Wade putting up their hands. It augurs well for the team’s future.

This loss will hurt, and haunt, Sri Lanka for a long time, perhaps more than any game of their career played by these cricketers, as they’d never come so close to making history in the other big opportunities they got (like the two World Cup finals of ’03 and ‘11). It can be safely said that they squandered an opportunity here. They had played well as a team right through the tournament; faltering at the very end was tragic timing.

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