The season in the Indian sub continent and the southern hemisphere starts in late September, and generally finishes in late March. For the three teams playing in the tri-series, the season began in contrasting fashion and ended up similarly too.
India after a disastrous tour to England recovered their poise somewhat by crushing the same opponents in a one-day series at home, and then easily beating the West Indies in a Test and one-day series at home. Sri Lanka too started well with matches in U.A.E. against Pakistan, and won a Test for the first time in South Africa before narrowly losing the one-day series to the Proteas.
Australia had a nightmarish Test against the South Africans when they were dismissed for 47 runs and lost after taking a first innings lead, and then when they returned home they lost to neighbours, New Zealand. However back home on familiar territory the Australians were back to their best and demolished India 4-0 in the Test series, and then capped the season by hanging in there in the third final despite a low total and winning that series too.
McKay takes five as Australia clinch Tri-series
The Australians winning the third final was typical of how teams react differently. The Australians seeing that they didn’t have enough runs on the board, raised the level of their fielding and didn’t allow easy runs at the start of the Sri Lankan chase, and used the new ball cleverly to pick the early wickets, which increased the pressure on the Lankans. Sri Lanka on the other hand had the typical sub continent attitude.
Having just chased down a target of 271 in the previous match on the same pitch and losing only two wickets in the process, the Lankans went into the dressing room thinking that getting 232 was going to be a piece of cake. Batsmen after batsmen looked to play shots when all that was needed was a sensible approach. Brett Lee was the one who made the initial breakthroughs and his dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara was so nicely set up and so simple in its subtlety. He first bowled a bouncer, which Sangakkara hooked for a boundary. His next ball was the sucker ball, a widish half-volley outside the off stump and 'Sanga' fell for it slashing at it when there was no need to do so, and edging it to Watson in the slips.
That was the wicket that the Aussies were looking for since 'Sanga' is the kind of batsman, who can guide the innings through. The Lankans then, did not help their cause by getting out to the plodding medium pace of Clint McKay. That a bowler like McKay can pick up five wickets against better lineups, while the likes of Malinga and Zaheer are taken for plenty is a strange thing, but that is where the temperament comes through.
The Australians never give up, and even with the bat they hung in and added valuable runs when it looked like they would be dismissed for just over 200. Those extra runs made the difference in the end, but more than that was the difference in the attitude and approach of the participating teams. The Australians played every match as if it was the finals, while the subcontinent teams played as if it was their first. No wonder, the Australians won.