Fri, Jan 27, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Australia pulls ahead after modest win over Sri Lanka

AP , ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Simon Katich made 52, the only half-century in a low-scoring match, to lead Australia to a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their tri-series limited-overs cricket match yesterday.

Sri Lanka's innings of 218 for eight was built around a series of modest scores and minor partnerships. Australia followed that trend as it surpassed the target score with five wickets down and nine balls to spare.

Katich's dogged innings of 50 from 83 balls stood out among a medley of moderate contributions. Sri Lanka's highest individual score was 34 and after Katich, Australia's next-best totals were Damien Martyn's 46, Adam Gilchrist's 34 and Andrew Symonds' 32.

Yesterday's win, crowning the Australia Day holiday, pushed the home team four points clear at the top of the tri-series standings.

After seven matches Australia has 14 points, Sri Lanka nine and South Africa eight as the series moves to Perth for matches on Sunday and Tuesday.

Australia's progress toward Sri Lanka's total was slowed yesterday by a difficult pitch. Muttiah Muralitharan grabbed two wickets in the 41st over to cause them some anxiety but Mike Hussey (25) and Michael Clarke (16) stayed at the crease to see them safely home.

Earlier, Brad Hogg, Nathan Bracken and Symonds shared seven wickets as Australia curbed Sri Lanka's scoring.

The success enjoyed by spinners Hogg and Symonds and the lanky left-arm quick Bracken illustrated the variable nature of the used Adelaide Oval pitch which offered bounce to the fast bowlers and allowed the spinners to exploit skid and turn.

Symonds took three for 48 from nine overs, Hogg two for 35 and Bracken two for 45 from completed spells.

For Sri Lanka, Muralitharan took two for 35 with probing off-spin and Nuwan Kulasekara two for 32 with accurate medium pace.

Sri Lanka made a ponderous start after winning the toss as openers Jehan Mubarak and Upul Tharanga, paired in the absence of Sanath Jayasuriya who aggravated a shoulder injury, struggled through tight early spells from Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath.

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