Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Australia secure series whitewash

UNFORTUNATE Sri Lanka, who needed a world record second innings total, weren't helped by an umpiring mistake that saw Kumar Sangakkara unfairly dismissed


Brett Lee finished off Sri Lanka's prolonged resistance yesterday, leading Australia to a series sweep and a 14th consecutive Test win.

Lee bowled Muttiah Muralitharan 12 minutes after lunch on the final day -- immediately after the Sri Lankan No. 11 upper cut him for six. That ended Sri Lanka's innings at 410 and secured Australia's 96-run win in the second Test.

Lee took eight wickets in the innings and 40-run win in the first Test last week and another eight in Hobart to win the player of the series honors in his first run as Australia's bowling spearhead.

"The end results probably say that this series has been an easy win for us, but there's a lot of hard work that goes into winning any Test match," Australia captain Ricky Ponting said.

Ponting said he was impressed with the transition in the team since the retirements of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath -- two of Test cricket's all-time leading bowlers -- and veteran batsmen Justin Langer and Damien Martyn.

"I was very satisfied after Brisbane, for those new guys coming into the team, they way they played," he said. "I'm probably more satisfied now."

The Hobart result was closer than expected, with Kumar Sangakkara scoring 192 before he was controversially dismissed. The last two wickets added 120 runs.

"At the end of the series we're very disappointed," Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said. "I felt we had a very good team. Good attack. But the way we played wasn't very consistent. We couldn't penetrate their top order, and the way we batted gave us a lot of problems."

Jayawardene said Sangakkara's innings, the highest by a Sri Lankan against Australia, "was one of the best I've seen."

"He batted the plan we had for him after he got his hundred yesterday, to bat through the day today while the other guys rotate around him so that we can challenge the 500-run total," Jayawardene said.

Sangakkara's plucky innings ended when umpire Rudi Koertzen ruled that he edged a Stuart Clark delivery onto his helmet before it rebounded to Ricky Ponting at second slip just before lunch on the last day.

TV replays showed the ball crashing into Sangakkara's shoulder, not the bat, although Ponting defended Australia's appeal for out because the players heard two noises in the contact.

It was a disappointing end for the 30-year-old Sangakkara after his sixth big hundred in his last seven Test matches.

Jayawardene confirmed that Koertzen, a South African, approached Sangakkara after the match and apologized.

"Rudi came and said sorry to him," Jayawardene said. "Kumar being Kumar was fine with it."

"He was very disappointed at the particular moment but when you sit back after half an hour, you know it's a mistake made by a human and that's it," Jayawardene said.

Sangakkara put on 74 for the ninth wicket with Lasith Malinga to keep the match alive long after Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 25 to slip to 290 for eight, chasing 507 runs to win.

Malinga, who contributed only nine to that partnership, slogged Clark for consecutive sixes in the over before lunch and again down the ground for another six just after the interval.

He finished not out on 42 after dominating the 46-run last-wicket stand with Muralitharan (15).

Sangakkara missed the first Test with a hamstring strain and Australia won by an innings and 40 runs. He batted at No. 3 in Hobart and scored 57 and 192 to prop up an otherwise below-par batting lineup.

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