Clarke, Bracken lead Australia to easy win

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 08, 2008 11:17 hrs

Michael Clarke top-scored with an unbeaten 77 and Nathan Bracken took five wickets as Australia beat Sri Lanka by 128 runs Friday in a tri-series limited-overs match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.


Australia scored 253-6 after Ricky Ponting won the toss and decided to bat. Sri Lanka was bowled out in the 32nd over for 125, meaning Australia picked up a bonus point to move to the top of the tri-series standings with seven points.

Bracken took a career-best 5-47 and was named man of the match.

Retiring wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist scored 61, his 54th half-century, including three fours and one six. Matthew Hayden, returning from a hamstring injury, hit 42 to dominate an opening stand of 65 with Gilchrist before Hayden fell caught at mid-wicket in the 13th over.

Chaminda Vaas dismissed Ponting, who was caught at slip for nine, as Australia's scoring rate slowed, leaving the home side at 88-2 from 20 overs in overcast conditions.

Gilchrist, who has made five of his 15 centuries against Sri Lanka, went for one big swing too many and was out lbw to Chamara Kapugedera at 139-3.

Andrew Symonds (12) chipped a catch to extra cover as left-armer Vaas (2-34) completed a strong spell.

Mike Hussey (10) also fell cheaply, caught at backward point trying to force the pace off the bowling of third-gamer Ishara Amarasinghe (2-66).

James Hopes, pushed down to No. 7 with Hayden's return, made 34 off 29 balls and shared a 63-run partnership with Clarke.

Full coverage: India in Australia 

Offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan (0-42) was struck in the face by the ball while diving forward at mid-on in the 48th over. He immediately left the field for treatment and one of his teeth was loosened, but he was able to bat in his team's innings.

In reply, Sri Lanka started badly when openers Sanath Jayasuriya (7) and Upul Tharanga (10) fell in successive balls to the bowling of Brett Lee and Bracken.

Kumar Sangakkara and captain Mahela Jaywardene (6) steadied as they added 39 runs for the third wicket before the skipper was caught behind off Mitchell Johnson, reducing Sri Lanka to 57-3.

Sangakkara continued to anchor the Sri Lanka innings but Bracken struck in the 20th over when he trapped the left-hander lbw for 42 off 41 balls, as the visitors collapsed.

Sri Lanka's middle-order lost two more wickets in the next two overs as spinner Brad Hogg removed Chamara Silva (7) caught behind, then Bracken had Chamara Kapugedera caught at slip for a duck.

Left-armer Bracken also had Tillekeratne Dilshan (14) caught at long-off to claim his fourth wicket and the paceman removed Muralitharan caught in the deep in his ninth over to end the match.

"Gilly (Gilchrist) played really well, and Clarke played a sensible knock,” said Ponting. “We got to 250 and I knew that as the game wore on our bowlers would be able to take the pace off the ball.”

Jayawardene said Sri Lanka had a difficult task.

”Chasing that total we knew it was going to be hard,” he said. “We lost too many wickets early.”

The first two games of the triangular series were washouts at the Gabba, between Australia and India on Sunday and India and Sri Lanka two days later.

The tri-series resumes Sunday with Australia playing India at Melbourne.

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