Beware Australia; Sri Lanka mean business

Sri Lanka might just, narrowly, be on the verge of winning their first CB Series.

By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar

Sri Lanka 238; Australia 229 (Sri Lanka won by 9 runs)

The scorecard of the match is here.

On a day when Australia had more supporters cheering for them (though not at the ground) than ever before in their history (even if by default), the additional Indian fervour could not get them to prevent a hungry Sri Lankan team from reaching the final.

Only four Australian batsmen reached double figures and only two Australian bowlers took wickets (though the others did not allow the match to get away) - it was not a great team effort by them. Sri Lanka also had just four batsmen reach double figures - but they were brilliant on the field - and showed great heart in defending a target that was possibly a couple of dozen runs short.

This is the match seen through the Impact Index prism.

 Sri Lanka:



Two Australians topped the IMPACT charts - three Australians got more than an IMPACT of 5 and yet their team lost - quite a rarity, this. Conversely, just two Sri Lankans crossed an IMPACT of 5, and yet they won, thanks to a superior team performance.

The two highest impact players of the match - Daniel Christian and James Pattinson played a big part in reducing Sir Lanka from 186-3 to 206-8. Christian took 5-31 in 9 overs with an IMPACT of 5.66 - the highest impact bowling performance of the match. This included a hat-trick for which he also registered substantial Pressure Building IMPACT. Pattinson took 4-51 in 10 overs with an IMPACT of 4.88 (he registered a negative Economy IMPACT but did break a partnership). Both were largely responsible for Sir Lanka's middling total of 238 in the end.

Dinesh Chandimal produced the highest impact batting performance of the match (75 off 84, IMPACT 5.17) which also had him absorb considerable pressure (at 17 for 2) and yet he also managed to achieve a very respectable Strike Rate IMPACT - a difficult balance to maintain. He got the Man-of-the-Match award - which was not contentious for most people perhaps because he was from the winning side.

Interestingly though, Kumar Sangakkara actually had a higher impact than him in the match, as much for the second-best batting performance in the match (64 off 93, IMPACT 4.20) as for his contribution as wicketkeeper - both for the flat job he did and the 2 dismissals and run out he played a part in. Too often, these contributions are completely overlooked in the final analysis.

Some felt Lasith Malinga should have got the Man-of-the-Match award - his 4-49 in 10 overs did bring him an IMPACT of 4.11, he did have some great moments (like the ball that yorked Watson) but there were also a few loose moments and he was not really at his best, as his overall IMPACT figures show.

The bowling efforts of Kulasekara, Herath, Thirimanne and Senanayake cannot be underestimated for the role they played - all achieved a Bowling IMPACT of over 1 - not a common occurrence.

David Hussey (74 off 74, IMPACT 4.90) and Shane Watson (65 off 83, IMPACT 4.65) both crossed a Batting IMPACT of 4 but neither could take the game beyond the Sri Lankans. Michael Hussey was the only other Aussie who crossed a Batting IMPACT of 1 - the main reason why they could not cross the finish line.

Lahiru Thirimanne was the only player to produce an all-round performance (an IMPACT of over 1 in both batting and bowling) for his 51 off 59 (IMPACT 3.03) and for 1 for 25 (IMPACT 1.08).

The second-best ODI all-rounder in the world today (after Kallis), Shane Watson, flopped with the ball this time, as he had with the bat in the last match - but still has produced back-to-back high impact performances, his first two matches after his long injury break, something that is greatly encouraging for Australia as they go into the finals.

Sri Lanka's team performance is also greatly heartening to the team, after the mauling they received in the last match. It took character and application to do this, and that is why they cannot be underestimated for the finals.

Sri Lanka's Team IMPACT in the match was 2.08 as compared to Australia's 1.91 - perhaps not as close as a winning margin of 9 runs suggests. 

The finals will be very interesting - the best two teams have definitely reached there. Australia's Team IMPACT of 2.02 and Sri Lanka's1.86 suggests Australia have a slight edge. But it is also a fact that Sri Lanka have won 3 of the 4 games between these two sides in this tournament. Eventually, the personnel changes in both sides will also have a considerable say.

But Sri Lanka might just, narrowly, be on the verge of winning their first CB Series here. We can at least bet on three matches now.

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