Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Clarke, Warner star for Aussies

Centuries by Michael Clarke and David Warner helped Australia set Sri Lanka 272 runs to win Tuesday's second tri-series final at Adelaide Oval.

Clarke, with a bad back, and Warner, with a dodgy groin, steered Australia to 6 for 271 from its 50 overs.

Captain Clarke (117) reached his ton from just 81 balls, while Warner passed a pre-match fitness test before making an even 100 to follow his 163 in Australia's win in Sunday's first final.

Clarke, frequently flexing his troublesome back, combined with Warner for a sterling 184-run partnership as Sri Lanka hampered its own bid to square the three-match series by dropping six catches.

The Australian duo united after Matthew Wade (14) and Shane Watson (15) were dismissed cheaply to leave the home side vulnerable at 2 for 56 in the 16th over.

But Clarke and Warner, through stealth rather than strength, reached a 150 stand from just 163 deliveries.

Clarke, clearly troubled by the back injury which forced him to miss two preliminary games, received three let-offs.

The most notable was on 77 when Lasith Malinga (3 for 40 from 10 overs) spilt a chance on the deep square leg boundary - the ball flicked the Sri Lankan's fingers on its way for six.

Malinga's blunder was the first of a stunning spree by Clarke who cracked six, four, six and four from successive Farveez Maharoof deliveries as Australia took 23 from the 44th over.

The flurry helped Clarke beat Warner to a century, the left-hander reaching his milestone from 138 balls but belying his powerhouse image by hitting just four fours and a six.

Clarke, who struck five fours and four sixes, hobbled from the field when run out after being unable to push his running between wickets in the latter stages of his 91-ball knock.