Mahela Jayawardene Australia

During the course of his unbeaten 81-ball 84, Mahela Jayawardene (left) became only the eighth batsman to cross 11,000 runs in One-Day Internationals © AFP

By Jaideep Vaidya
 
London: Jun 17, 2013

 
Mahela Jayawardene and Lahiru Thirimanne both scored half-centuries as they helped Sri Lanka to 253 for eight against Australia in the last Group A match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. Australia will have to chase it down in 29.1 overs if they want to join England, South Africa and India in the semi-finals.
 
In a welcome change, the rains decided to stay away from The Oval on Monday as Australia skipper George Bailey won the toss and elected to field first. The defending champions need a big win to qualify and the think-tank would have thought that they would do better knowing what they have to chase.
 
The Sri Lankans, who just need a win to progress, were rocked early as Mitchell Johnson and Clint McKay accounted for the wickets of Kushal Perera (4) and Kumar Sangakkara (3), respectively, within the first four overs.
 
Tillakaratne Dilshan and the promoted Thirimanne then took up the task of steadying the wobble. The duo calmly went about the rebuilding, scoring just above four runs an over. It took a great diving catch at first slip by Shane Watson to break the 72-run stand in the 23rd over as Xavier Doherty picked up his first wicket.
 
This brought the elder statesman, Jayawardene, to the crease. The 36-year-old lost Thirimanne (57) and his skipper Angelo Mathews (12) within the space of five overs as Australia threatened to claw back into the match with about 20 overs to go.

However, Jayawardene found a responsible partner in Dinesh Chandimal who put his hand up and aided his senior teammate. The pair slowly upped the run-rate to five, even as Jayawardene crossed the 11,000-run mark in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), becoming only the eighth batsman in the world to do so.

Chandimal, in a bid to slog in the death overs, holed out to mid-on after a mishit off Johnson’s off-cutter, breaking a handsome 65-run stand and giving the left-handed pacer his third wicket.

The Lankans lost two more wickets in the last three overs, even as Jayawardene remained unbeaten on 84 off 81 balls — a responsible knock that included 11 boundaries. Jayawardene was prolific on the off-side, his wagon-wheel showing a flurry of lines in the cover and point region. In the end, the decision to demote him a spot worked in the Lankans’ favour, as his stable and mature head shepherded their innings to a total his team’s bowlers will consider defendable.

Brief scores:
 
Sri Lanka 253 for 8 in 50 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 84*, Lahiru Thirimanne 57; Mitchell Johnson 3 for 48) vs Australia.
 
Full Scorecard

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