(Reuters) – David Warner smacked a swashbuckling 163 before Australia weathered a fierce fightback to secure a 15-run victory over Sri Lanka in the first final of the one-day international Tri-series in Brisbane yesterday.
Warner’s 157-ball knock propelled the hosts to a 50-over total of 321-6, a mountain that ultimately proved too high for Sri Lanka despite late half-centuries from Nuwan Kulasekara and Upal Tharanga that threatened a comeback.
The victory on a drizzly night at the Gabba gave Australia a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three final series, with the teams heading to Adelaide on Tuesday for the second final.
Warner belted two sixes and 13 boundaries in his ton, Australia’s sixth largest in one-dayers, and teamed up with wicketkeeper Matt Wade for a 136-run opening stand that set up the platform for the win.
Wade was out for 64 attempting to slog over the rope at long-on where Rangana Herath dived backwards to take a spectacular catch with his left hand.
Warner continued pillaging the Sri Lankan attack until he was bowled on the last ball by paceman Dhammika Prasad.
Prasad had Dan Christian caught behind for 10 and Dave Hussey was out for one in the following over, caught and bowled by Herath, to leave Australia on 224-4 and give Sri Lanka hope of restricting them to an achievable total.
Michael Clarke righted the ship with a quickfire 37 on his return from injury, however, before Mike Hussey took over for an unbeaten 19 to see out the full quota of overs.
Sri Lanka’s chase started brightly, with openers Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan belting Australia’s pacemen to all corners of the ground, but Brett Lee removed both of them in successive overs to halt the charge.
Paceman Lee and part-time spinner David Hussey combined to reduce Sri Lanka to 144-6 in the 31st over before Kulasekara (73) and Tharanga (60) gave Australia a scare, firing the tourists to 248 with eight overs to spare.
Kulasekara smashed three sixes and seven fours to leave Sri Lankan fans jumping for joy in the stands, but was out swiping straight to extra cover for Hussey’s fourth wicket.
Hussey had a hand in the eighth wicket, snaffling a slogged shot in the deep to dismiss Tharanga for 60 off the bowling of Watson.
Dhammika Prasad battled on with an unbeaten 31 but ran out of partners, with Lasith Malinga smashing straight to Mike Hussey at deep square leg on the second ball of the last over to concede defeat.