|Wednesday, 18 February 2004|
Aussies start tour on winning note
by Sa'adi Thawfeeq
It was oh, so easy for the Aussies. A total of 283 runs hardly represented a challenge to them as they cruised past the target with effortless ease to post a five-wicket win over the Sri Lanka Cricket President's XI at De Soysa Stadium, Moratuwa yesterday in what would be their only warm-up game ahead of the five one-day internationals starting at Dambulla on Friday.
The Australians were so confident of their batting that skipper Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn and Andrew Symonds sacrificed their wickets by retiring to the pavilion with personal scores of 57, 42 and 47 respectively. Had they continued, Australia would have coasted to victory inside 40 overs.
The manner in which the Australians approached their target bore the stamp of confidence the team is presently undergoing. Gilchrist and Hayden, their established one-day opening pair posted 70 for the first wicket off 54 balls and the scoring rate never dipped to less than six an over at any given time.
Theirs were the only wickets the President's team was able to capture. Hayden mistimed an on drive off Charitha Buddhika and was caught at mid-on for 35 scored off 27 balls and Gilchrist was bowled by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for 43 as he attempted to sweep.
The Australian vice-captain hit seven fours in his 50-ball knock, while Hayden also reached the boundary a similar number of occasions.
Ponting (57 off 58 balls, 1 six, 6 fours), Martyn (41 off 61 balls, 3 fours) and Symonds (47 off 35 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) were all in a punishing mood as they lay bare the local bowling attack, which looked rather mundane on the placid track.
Australian coach John Buchanan was quick to point out that his side was not exposed too much to the spinners when he said: "The pitch was a little bit slow and there was a little bit of turn but we didn't see a lot of spin bowling. I think it was good to just get out on the field and feel the conditions. We adapted to it well."
"The match gave all the bowlers an opportunity to bowl which is important. We gave most of our top order batsmen virtually a chance of a knock in the center. We achieved what we set out to achieve. The match was designed to give people a hit out in the middle. The result was inconsequential," he said.
A feature of the Australian innings was the powerful hitting of Symonds. One of his massive hits crashed into the second floor of the media box where an 11-year-old child barely escaped injury.
The straight drive off part-time bowler Bathiya Perera saw the ball break through the large windowpane and scatter splinters of glass all over the media box. The child, a student at Alethea International said that he ran away when he saw the speeding ball travelling towards where he was seated.
Australia gave a hint to what their bowling attack would be like in the forthcoming one-day series when they gave 26 of the 50 overs to the spinners with left-arm wrist spinner Simon Katich bowling the second highest after Brad Hogg with seven.
Buchanan said they were looking for a balance whether to go with two quick bowlers, an all-rounder and an extra couple of spinners or three quick bowlers, an all rounder and a spinner. "What we were trying to do today was to give everybody an opportunity to bowl under these conditions," he said.
Katich he said was tested out with the ball to overcome a wrist problem - a strain in his knuckles, which prevented him from actually turning the ball.
Buchanan said that Australia would sort out the bowling balance and the no. 7 spot whether it goes to a batsman or to an all-rounder when chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns arrives during the week.
Saman Jayantha and Jehan Mubarak hit contrasting half-centuries to steer the President's XI to a respectable total of 283-8 off 50 overs after Arnold had won the toss and decided to bat first.
Jayantha once again proved himself as an aggressive batsman when he scored a half-century off 54 balls inclusive of six fours and two sixes. It was fine display by him and Mubarak who made use of some wayward bowling by the Australian fast bowlers to put useful runs on the board.
Mubarak's knock of 56 off 64 balls was all wristy elegance. He caressed the ball to where he wanted and his eight fours were sweetly timed.
Arnold needing a big innings to impress the selectors began well racing to 35 off 44 balls but was tragically run out by his partner Bathiya Perera when he hit the ball straight to extra cover's hands and ran past a bewildered Arnold.
Gayan Wijekoon gave the innings a final flourish by scoring a rapid unbeaten 33 off 18 balls inclusive of three fours and a six. It was a fine batting effort by the President's team considering the fact that Australia was at full strength.
Both sides were guilty of bowling wides and no-balls during the match. The Australians were penalized for bowling 25 wides and Sri Lanka bowlers for 22 no balls.
SRI LANKA CRICKET PRESIDENT'S XI D.A. Gunawardana lbw b Lee 14 S. Jayantha lbw b Hogg 50 R.P. Hewage c Harvey b Kasprowicz 25 J. Mubarak b Katich 56 R.P. Arnold run out 35 L.P.C. Silva c Martyn b Hogg 3 W.M.B. Perera c Haddin b Williams 26 H.A.P.W. Jayawardene b Gillespie 7 W.M.G. Wijekoon not out 33 K.A.D.M. Fernando not out 2 EXTRAS (lb-6, nb-1, w-25) 32 TOTAL (8 wkts inns closed, 50 overs) 283 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-32, 2-83, 3-143, 4-179, 5-84, 6-226, 7-235, 8-274. BOWLING: Gillespie 6-1-58-1 (18w), Lee 4-0-23-1 (5w), Williams 6-1-24-1 (1w), Kasprowicz 5-0-27-1, Hogg 10-0-47-2 (1w), Symonds 5-0-39-0, Katich 7-0-35-1, Clarke 4-0-12-0, Harvey 3-0-22-0. AUSTRALIANS A.C. Gilchrist b Herath 43 M.L. Hayden c Fernando b Buddhika 35 R.T. Ponting retd out 57 D.R. Martyn retd out 41 A. Symonds retd out 47 M.J. Clarke not out 18 S.M. Katich not out 13 EXTRAS (lb-4, nb-22, w-4) 30
TOTAL (5 wkts, 44.1 overs) 284 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-70, 2-123, 3-183, 4-226, 5-256. BOWLING: Fernando 4-0-43-0 (5nb), Buddhika 8-1-38-1 (4nb), Gamage 5-0-43-0 (2nb), Herath 9.1-0-58-1, Wijekoon 10-0-38-0 (5nb), Jayantha 1-0-12-0 (3w, 2nb), Mubarak 3-0-21-0 (1w), Perera 4-0-27-0 (2nb). Note: The match was a 13-a-side game where 13 bat and 11 field.
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