Article

Hughes, Doherty shine in face-saving win

23 January 2013 12:49

A three-wicket burst from spinner Xavier Doherty set Australia on their way to a 32-run, series-saving victory over Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

But the home side had to survive a late scare in the face of an Angelo Mathews onslaught to square the series at 2-2 in Hobart.

Set 248 to win and secure their second series victory in Australia since 2010, Sri Lanka could not find a top order batsman to match Australian centurion Phil Hughes' earlier efforts and despite a dashing knock from Mathews (67) in the middle order, were eventually bowled out for 215 with nine balls remaining.

Doherty's three scalps and a wicket in the first over from Moises Henriques saw Sri Lanka lose 4-20 in 51 balls between the 12th and 21st overs, all but forfeiting their grip on the series.

But Mathews and Jeevan Mendis (26) added 79 for the sixth wicket to give Sri Lanka some chance of pulling off an unlikely victory before Henriques (3-32) returned to remove Mendis in the 44th over and Mitchell Johnson (2-44) had Mathews caught at midwicket in the next.

Despite a bright start from Mahela Jayawardene (38) in his last match as Sri Lankan captain, the visitors struggled to recover after Doherty ran through the top order and eventually fell 33 short of the victory target.

With Michael Clarke missing with an ankle injury suffered in training on Tuesday, Hughes anchored the batting effort from number three, notching his second ton of the series in impressive fashion.

The 24-year-old dasher curbed his natural enthusiasm early but blossomed late in the innings, bringing up his century in 132 deliveries and finishing unbeaten on 138 from 154 balls with 13 boundaries and one big six over midwicket.

Hughes and David Hussey (34) added 98 runs for the fourth wicket to help Australia post 247-5 from their 50 overs in a batting display that was far more assured than their three previous efforts.

In a role reversal of sorts, it was Jayawardene that leapt from the blocks early in the Sri Lankan chase, hitting three boundaries from Clint McKay’s (2-50) third over to race beyond 30 before Tillakaratne Dilshan (19) had made it to double figures.

The captain's cameo was up in the 13th over when Doherty lured him into a false drive that was safely pouched by Mitchell Starc, running with the flight of the ball at mid-on.

Lahiru Thirimanne (one) followed in Doherty’s next over, caught in the deep by David Hussey to reduce Sri Lanka to 62-2 after 15 overs and take the gloss off what had been a promising start.

Henriques was introduced by acting skipper George Bailey to immediate effect, nipping one away from Dilshan and finding the edge en route to Matthew Wade behind the stumps to put a genuine wobble in the Sri Lankan reply.

When Dinesh Chandimal (six) was bowled by Doherty in the 21st over, Sri Lanka had fallen to 77-4 and the writing was on the wall.

Mathews tried hard to form meaningful partnerships with Kushal Perera (14) and Mendis through the middle order but the breakthroughs from Henriques and Johnson put paid to any hope of a Sri Lankan comeback and settled Australian nerves.

Needing to score at nine for the final 15 overs, Sri Lanka tried to lift the tempo with a series of boundaries during their powerplay, but the task proved too great as the required run rate continued to climb.

The lower order went down swinging and despite a much-improved performance in the one day arena following a disappointing Test tour, the Sri Lankans will feel little consolation after allowing the series win slip so early in the run chase.

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