Cricket: Warne turns the tide for Australia

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The Independent Online

Shane Warne transformed yesterday's opening match of the best-of-three World Series final as Australia beat Sri Lanka by 18 runs.

The tourists appeared to be cruising to victory at the Melbourne Ground before Warne took two key wickets. Chasing Australia's moderate total of 201 for 7, Sri Lanka lost six middle-order wickets for 25 runs to lose their way, being dismissed for 183 in 48.1 overs.

Yorkshire's Michael Bevan and Ricky Ponting rescued Australia with determined half-centuries after a top-order collapse left them on 39 for 4. Ian Healy completed the recovery with an undefeated 50 off 51 balls.

When Warne came on to bowl Sri Lanka, having reached 78 for 2 after 17 overs, lost the vital wickets of vice-captain Aravinda de Silva for 34 and Hashan Tillakaratne for one.

Craig McDermott then lured Asanka Gurusinha into a rash shot when on 47, and Sri Lanka's captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, added 33 for the final wicket with Ravindra Pushpakumara before being bowled by McGrath with 11 balls remaining.

WORLD SERIES Final (First game of three; Melbourne): Australia 201 for 7 (50 overs; R T Ponting 51, M G Bevan 59, I A Healy 50no); Sri Lanka 183 (48.1 overs). Australia won by 18 runs.