Australia survived some inspired bowling from Muttiah Muralitharan to clinch a four–wicket victory over Sri Lanka in their VB Series match.
The Australians looked comfortable at the start of their innings as they set about chasing the 212 runs needed to clinch victory, but the off–spinner ripped through their top order, finishing with figures of 4–27 off his 10 overs.
Murali's efforts were ultimately in vain, though, as Michael Bevan, who made a steady unbeaten 45 and Brad Hogg (14) saw the Aussies home.
Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene rescued Sri Lanka's innings after they had slumped to 35 for three.
The pair put on 112 – a record fourth–wicket stand for Sri Lanka against Australia – to put their side in a good position for a score well in excess of 200.
But when Atapattu fell for 70, Sri Lanka went to pieces, with the lower middle order collapsing.
By the end of their 50 overs they had made a disappointingly modest 211 for nine.
It looked as if the hosts were going to make short work of Sri Lanka's total with Jimmy Maher and Matthew Hayden getting them off to a good start.
But Murali decided enough was enough and removed Maher with the score on 76, thanks to a brilliant stumping by Kumar Sangakkara, who chased the ball down the leg side.
Hayden followed shortly afterwards, departing for 42 runs when he edged a catch to Dilhara Fernando at deep backward square trying to sweep Muralitharan.
Damian Martin was the next to go, bowled between bat and pad by Muralitharan
Then Aravinda de Silva weighed in, another stumping by Sangakkara helping him to the wicket of Ricky Ponting (15), as Australia began to flounder on 100 for four.
But that was the cue for Darren Lehmann and Bevan to steady the ship with Murali taken off, putting on 72 together before Lehmann was run out.
Bevan stuck around, though, and saw Australia to victory, even though Muralitharan later completed his tally by dismissing Shane Watson (4).
Sri Lanka will now play England in Adelaide on Friday for the right to face the Aussies in the final of the triangular series.
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