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02-Mar-2012 16:10:00 GMT
Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, 12th match, Melbourne

Sri Lanka Hold Nerve to Seal Finals Berth

Melbourne: India were finally knocked out of the triseries as Sri Lanka brought a heart-breaking end to their nervous wait with a nail-biting nine-run victory over Australia.

India needed an Australian win to qualify for the finals but it was Sri Lanka who secured a passage to the summit showdown as they scraped past the hosts in a match which saw fortunes fluctuating from one team to another till the very end at the MCG.

Electing to bat, Sri Lanka put up a modest 238 runs and then bowled out the hosts for 229 to win with five balls to spare.

In then nerve-wrecking final moments of the game, Australia needed 10 runs in the last over off Nuwan Kulasekara but David Hussey's mighty heave was caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan at long-off to trigger off wild celebrations in the Sri Lankan camp.

Both Australia and Sri Lanka now have 19 points each and will clash in the best of three finals, beginning at Brisbane on Sunday.

India remained on 15 points and it marked the end of the a disastrous tour, in which they suffered a 4-0 Test series whitewash and had mixed results in the triseries.

The Australian chase was guided well by stand-in skipper Shane Watson, who scored 65 runs, and David Hussey's fighting 74, but they lacked the fire power in the end to overhaul the modest target.

For Sri Lanka Kumar Sangakkara (64), Dinesh Chandimal (75) and Lahiru Thirimanne (51) were the chief contributors to the total.

Lasith Malinga, who had a horrendous last match against India, was the star performer this time as he picked four wickets including that of Watson, David Warner (6) and Peter Forrest (2).

Australia were reeling at 26 for three -- having lost Matthew Wade (9), Warner and Forrest -- when Watson and Mike Hussey steadied the chase with a 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

The match was looking like going Australia way but Lahiru Thrimanne broke the stand by scalping Hussey (29).

David was playing well from one end but was running out of partners with Watson, Daniel Christian (3) and James Patinson (12) departing early.

David fought hard with his fighting knock and was the last man dismissed. His effort was only enough to reduce the defeat margin.

Earlier, all-rounder Daniel Christian sparkled with a hat-trick during a career-best five-wicket burst as Australia dismissed Sri Lanka for 238.

Playing only his eighth ODI, the 28-year-old Christian's hat-trick in the 44th over was the highlight of the first session's play in today's match -- the batsmen falling victim to him being Thisara Perera (5), Sachithra Senanayke (0) and Nuwan Kulasekara (0).

The right-arm pacer ended the day with impressive match figures of 5-31 in nine overs. James Pattinson picked up four wickets, conceding 51 runs in his 10 overs.

Brief scores
Sri Lanka
238 (Chandimal 75, Sangakkara 64, Thirimanne 51, Christian 5-31, Pattinson 4-51)
Australia 229 (D Hussey 74, Watson 65, Malinga 4-49)
Result Sri Lanka beat Australia by nine runs
MOM Dinesh Chandimal (Sri Lanka)
Points Sri Lanka 4, Australia 0

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