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Lankans look to prevail over Australia in tri-series finals
 
 
 

BRISBANE  - A woeful India out of the equation, Australia and Sri Lanka will battle it out in best-of-three finals with the spirited islanders well-equipped to upstage the hosts in the summit clashes starting on Sunday.
Mahela Jayawardene and his men have beaten Australia in three straight games and what's more, have bowled them out thrice which should matter more now that the first final is on a pacy and bouncy strip.  Lasith Malinga is obviously the spearhead of Lankan ambitions and his slinging action has claimed 14 scalps so far in the tournament.
He recorded his series best of 4/49 on Friday to secure a thrilling nine-run win for his team in Melbourne and a passage to the finals. Nuwan Kulasekara has been a source of strength at the other end with nine victims at an economy rate of 4.89 in the tournament.  Angelo Mathews (7) and Thisara Perera (9) have been more than adequate support at the other end though the latter will not be there on Sunday due to injury suffered in Friday's match.  Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath has been outstanding with his economy rate of 4.17 in six matches even though he has had no more than three wickets. He conceded 43 runs in his 10 overs for the wicket of James Pattinson in Melbourne.
Sri Lanka's strength has been the solidity of their top order with all the top four looking more than good with the bat.
Young Dinesh Chandimal has been in fine nick with 383 runs at 63.83 average and a strike rate of 82.36. Every second innings of his in the tournament have been a score in excess of 50 runs.
Jayawardene's move to the top as an opener has been a masterstroke for his side. The Sri Lankan captain failed in the last match but he still has 297 runs at 42.42 average and a tremendous strike rate of 87.86.
Kumar Sangakkara has slowly picked up the threads and has 308 runs at 38.50. Opener Tillakaratne Dilshan has played the highest knock of the tournament -- a mammoth 160 against India at Bellerive Oval, Hobart where he carried his bat through.
Sri Lankans are also blessed with athletic fielding. Dilshan has been outstanding inside the ring and a few of the catches effected have been breathtaking -- like David Warner's catch at short cover and Sachithra Senanayake's low catch off his own bowling on Friday.
The aggressive and imaginative captaincy of Jayawardene has also been the talking point of this tournament.
The Australians, on the other hand, haven't been able to break the shackles imposed by the Lankans in this triangular series.
David Warner and Matthew Wade have been a disappointing presence at the top, scoring 195 and 214 runs at 24.37 and 26.75 average. Their best opening stand has been 70 against India at this very venue. The innings has often been redeemed by David Hussey who tops the list with 412 runs at an average of 82.40 and a whopping strike rate of 104.56.
His elder brother Michael has often wasted fine starts and is presently languishing with 200 runs from seven matches at 28.57.  They will be bolstered by the return of fit-again regular captain Michael Clarke while the young Peter Forrest inspires confidence with 247 runs at 41.16.
 Australia's lower half hasn't looked credible with Dan Christian alone striking 158 runs at 26.33.  Australia's strength has been their work in the field. James Pattinson's return has been fascinating and both Ben Hilfenhaus and Dan Christian have had a five-wicket haul against their names.
Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty has an impressive economy rate of 4.20 and he also has had nine scalps at 29.66 average. Clint McKay hasn't done too badly either with 10 wickets and an economy rate of 4.78.  In many ways, Australia's batting against Sri Lanka's bowling holds the key to the finals.
The latter should acquire that extra edge in favourable conditions of Gabba.
Australia squad: Michael Clarke (Capt.), Shane Watson, Dan Christian, Xavier Doherty, Peter Forrest, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner.
Sri Lanka squad: Mahela Jayawardene (Capt.), Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Sachithra Senanayake, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Thisara Perera, Dhammika Prasad and Lahiru Thirumanne.

 
 
on epaper page 20
 
 
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