Lehmann leads victory march

Australia 305-5 Sri Lanka 163 Australia win by 142 runs

By Paul Short
Monday 23 December 2002 01:00
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Australia overwhelmed Sri Lanka here at the WACA yesterday to move back to the top of the VB Series table. Despite playing without the injured Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist, Australia were far too strong, running up a formidable 305 for 5 before dismissing the tourists for 163.

Australia's total was built around a run-a-ball 119 from the stand-in opener Darren Lehmann, with supporting roles coming from Matthew Hayden and Michael Bevan.

Sri Lanka were then blown away by the pace men, with Brett Lee and Shane Watson picking up three wickets apiece and Glenn McGrath taking two.

The world champions' victory was their third consecutive win in the series and lifts them above England in the table.

Lehmann made the most of his opportunity to open the batting by recording his best one-day international score. He has struggled to make an impact in the Test series against England having been recalled to the side at the expense of Mark Waugh, but he looked back to the kind of form that has made him the highest-ever run scorer in Australian domestic cricket.

The Yorkshire captain dominated the strike from the outset, and with Hayden, got the hosts off to a wonderful start. The pair put on 162 in 25.4 overs before Hayden fell to Sanath Jayasuriya for 64 from 68 balls.

Lehmann, now with Ricky Ponting, carried on his imperious knock. His third one-day century came up off 100 balls, and included 11 fours and a six.

Ponting, for once, failed to make an impact as he was bowled off the pads by Prabath Nissanka for 17. Nissanka also claimed the prize wicket of Lehmann shortly afterwards, the batsman attempting a guide to third man but only managing to get an inside edge on to the stumps.

The home side needed a strong partnership to round off their innings and they got one in the shape of Bevan (40no) and Watson (25no). Bevan, who has the best average of any one-day international batsman, was, as usual, content to manoeuvre the ball around the field and pick up singles – a tactic also employed by his younger partner as the duo put on 52 from 41 balls.

Chasing such a huge total, a good start was crucial for Sri Lanka, but after Jayasuriya was out with the score on 15, wickets fell with regulary.

After a series of lightning strikes, the players were forced off by a shower and when play resumed, it was a similar story. A 78-run stand for the sixth wicket between Kumar Sangakkara (40) and Romesh Kaluwitharana (35) at least gave the Sri Lanka innings an air of respectability, but Watson returned to take both wickets and end the match as a contest.

VB SERIES (Perth): Australia 305 for 5 (D S Lehmann 119, M L Hayden 64; 50 overs); Sri Lanka 163. Australia win by 142 runs. Standings: 1 Australia (P3, Pts17); 2 England (4-11); 3 Sri Lanka (3-1).

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