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Gilchrist lights up hometown farewell

February 15, 2008 18:38 IST

Adam Gilchrist's last appearance on home turf followed the perfect script, as the retiring Australian struck his 16th ODI century to guide the hosts to a 63-run victory over Sri Lanka in a CB Tri-series match in Perth on Friday.

Gilchrist scored 118 on his final appearance at the WACA before the Australian bowlers came up with a superlative show to help the side bag a bonus point as well before climbing to the top of the points table.

It was Gilchrist's rather cultured 132-ball knock that propped the hosts, who survived a four-wicket burst from maverick Lasith Malinga's before being all out for 236 in 49.4 overs.

In reply, Sri Lanka never got going, losing wickets at regular intervals, with only Kumar Sangakkara (80) putting up a semblance of a fight. The islanders were eventually shot out for a meagre 173 in 45.3 overs.

Australia's pace duo of Nathan Bracken (3-21) and Mitchell Johnson (3-29) shared six wickets among them, one of those rare occasions when Brett Lee (1-49) was outshone by his colleagues.

Gilchrist was the obvious choice for the Man of the Match award even though his was a rather uncharacteristic knock, sans the fireworks that have been the hallmark of his batting. He broke loose on three occasions and each time the ball sailed over the ropes.

With this victory, Australia lead the table with 12 points from four matches, followed by India (8), while the Lankans have six points, having played as many games.

Chasing 237, Sri Lanka looked in tremendous hurry as Tillakratne Dilshan (11) hit Brett Lee's first ball to the backward square leg boundary and three balls later Sanath Jayasuriya (12) upper-cut the pacer for the second boundary.

Nathan Bracken too got the medicine from Jayasuriya in his first over, but the lanky left-arm seamer settled scores with the first ball of his second delivery when the swashbuckling opener was done in by the rush of blood.

Jayasuriya charged down the track only to see the thick edge fly to James Hopes at third man.

Dilshan soon joined him in the hut after Mitchell Johnson struck with his fourth delivery that swung late and castled the Lankan. The visitors were clearly in a spot of bother after the double blow left them 35 for two in the fifth over.

Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene (21) seemed to have arrested the slide and the Lankan captain had reasons to feel indebted to his opposite number after Ricky Ponting, who dropped him at second slip off Johnson and the ball raced to third man boundary, rubbing salt to Australian wounds.

The wrong was righted in the 11th over with Ponting making no mistake this time and Johnson finally having his man.

Again trouble came in pair and five more runs later, Chamara Silva (0) was ruled caught by Andrew Symonds off Bracken even though replays showed the ball had touched the ground when the fielder pouched it.

At 76 for four in 14 overs, Sri Lanka seemed to have lost their way.

Chamara Kapugedera (26), however, seemed game for a fight as he joined Sangakkara in the middle but before the partnership could really blossom, Hopes removed the batsman leaving Sri Lanka 129 for five.

Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg then struck a double blow in successive balls, removing Ferveez Maharoof (7) and Chaminda Vaas (0), even though Nuwan Kulasekara (0) denied him a hat-trick.

Sangakkara was the last man out, done in by Lee, after a 114-ball 80 that included four boundaries, highlighting how difficult it was to score off the accurate Australian attack.

Earlier, local hero Gilchrist enthralled the choc-a-bloc WACA for one last time and by the time he fell, caught by Kapugedera at mid-off off Malinga, he had scored invaluable 118 runs that came off 132 balls and included nine fours and three sixes.

On their part, The Sri Lankan bowlers did an excellent job to keep the Aussies on a tight leash.

Malinga removed Matthew Hayden (4) in the fourth over, while Chaminda Vaas scalped Ricky Ponting (25) just when the Australian captain looked set.

Michael Clarke (43), however, had other ideas as he joined hands with Gilchrist to steady the rocking boat.

The duo helped themselves to some easy boundaries and in between ran hard en route to a 105-run stand for the third wicket that did not set the WACA alight but at least pulled the hosts out of the woods.

And when Gilchrist brought up his century pushing a Muttiah Muralitharan to long on for a single, the crowd was on its feet to applaud the cricketer who will hang up his gloves after the tri-series.

Muralitharan snapped the partnership by getting Clarke stumped and once Gilchrist departed, Australia lost wickets in a heap towards and the end with its lower half being polished for just 30 runs.

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