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Hughes sets Sri Lanka a hard target

A SECOND century within a fortnight from Phillip Hughes was pivotal in Australia winning its final ODI against Sri Lanka to salvage a two-all series draw.

Hughes' well-paced 138 not out ensured Sri Lanka had to chase a target of 248 at Blundstone Arena, rather than the sub-200 target that Australia was on track for until its mid-innings surge.

A sixth-wicket stand of 79 led by Angelo Mathews gave Sri Lanka hope of a decisive 3:1 series victory in front of a crowd of 8102 but it fell 32 runs short of Australia, all out for 215 in the second-last over.

The weakening of Australia's batting line-up, through the inclusion of batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for the injured Michael Clarke, prompted stand-in captain George Bailey to install Matthew Wade as opener and push Hughes to three. It did not pay off, as Warner underestimated the gentle spin of Tillakaratne Dilshan on 10 and Wade was trapped in front by Nuwan Kulasekera on 23.

Wade compounded his misjudgement by challenging the umpire's decision. The rejection continued Australia's awful record of referrals during the ODI series, with five failures from five attempts - late six from six when it was in the field. Fortunately none of Wade's teammates suffered from that error.

The momentum Hughes generated from his ODI debut earlier this month, when he scored a century, had completely dissipated by the time he arrived in the seventh over, given he had scored seven runs across his three subsequent innings.


While Hughes scoring a second century in just his fifth match was unprecedented by an Australian - Steve Smith, from nine matches in the early 1980s, had been the fastest - even more significant than that record was his ability to able to recover from a subdued start.

At the 20-over mark of Australia's innings the 24-year-old had a strike-rate below 50 and had conceded two maiden overs to Sri Lanka's bowlers, a liability in limited-overs matches.

Even when he reached his half-century, from 82 deliveries, there was an obvious parallel to last summer's ODI at Blundstone Arena, when inexperienced Queenslander Peter Forrest contributed 104 not out but required 138 deliveries to do so. The achievement became somewhat hollow after Sri Lanka successfully chased a target of 281.

With Australia not reaching 100 until the 29th over it seemed another century could be overshadowed by having been achieved in a losing total. Similarly, that the third-wicket partnership between Hughes and Bailey (17 off 43) produced 60 runs was secondary to it absorbing a third of Australia's total deliveries.

The catalyst for the home team's recovery was the arrival of David Hussey in the 27th over. The right-hander's intensity - he scored from all but four of his first 20 deliveries - proved contagious for Hughes.

By the time Hussey departed in the 44th over for a 34 he had shared a 98-run partnership with Hughes, who belied his sluggish start by scoring at a run a ball between his half-century and century. The highlight was a heaved on-drive off Lasith Malinga, a shot rarely - if ever - seen until the left-hander's latest international stint. When Australia's innings finished at 5-247 Hughes was on 138 and his strike-rate, significantly, had recovered sufficiently to finish at just under 90, an acceptable pace for a batsman able to occupy the crease for 43 overs and make the majority of his team's score.

Mahela Jayawardene's final innings as captain started superbly as he surged to a run-a-ball 38 as his team reached 0-57 after 12 overs. Sri Lanka then ceded that momentum through its inability to handle Xavier Doherty. The left-armer's superb opening spell of 3-13 from seven overs included the key wicket of Jayawardene in a stint in which the visitors conceded 4-20 within nine overs. Sri Lanka did not recover until it was forced to take its batting powerplay in the 36th over.

Having started the period at 5-113 and having only scored above a run a ball once since the ninth over it scored a 0-38 in that five-over bracket to give it a daunting, but not impossible, target of 97 from the last 10 overs.

Even when Bailey dispersed the field in an attempt to quell Sri Lanka's scoring the visitors scored at just above their required run-rate, with vice-captain Mathews, who like Hughes accelerated after a sluggish start, ably supported by Jeevan Mendis.

The pair's 79, from just 76 deliveries, forced Bailey to recall the accurate Doherty ahead of schedule, in the 43rd over.

M WADE lbw b Kulasekara 23
D WARNER b Dilshan 10
P HUGHES not out 138
G BAILEY c and b T Perera 17
D HUSSEY run out (T Perera) 34
G MAXWELL c Thirimanne b Malinga 9
M HENRIQUES not out 9
Sundries (2lb, 5w) 7
Total (5 wkts - 50 overs) 247
Fall of wickets: 31 (Warner), 37 (Wade), 97 (Bailey), 195 (Hussey), 218 (Maxwell)
Bowling: T Dilshan 7-3-22-1, N Kulasekara 10-1-57-1, A Mathews 7-0-44-0, L Malinga 10-1-49-1 (1w), R Herath 10-2-34-0, T Perera 6-0-39-1 (1w/4)

Sri Lanka
M JAYAWARDENE c Starc b Doherty 38
T DILSHAN c Wade b Henriques 19
L THIRIMANNE c Hussey b Doherty 1
D CHANDIMAL b Doherty 6
A MATHEWS c Bailey b Johnson 67
K PERERA c Warner b Johnson 14
J MENDIS b Henriques 26
T PERERA b Henriques 7
N KULASEKARA not out 14
R HERATH c Henriques b McKay 2
L MALINGA c Johnson b McKay 2
Sundries (12lb, 6w, 1nb) 19
Total (all out - 48.3 overs) 215
Fall of wickets: 57 (Jayawardene), 62 (Thirimanne), 71 (Dilshan), 77 (Chandimal), 108 (K Perera), 187 (J Mendis), 187 (Mathews), 195 (T Perera), 200 (Herath), 215 (Malinga)
Bowling: C McKay 9.3-0-51-2 (2w), M Starc 9-0-48-0 (3w 1nb), M Johnson 10-0-45-2 (1w), X Doherty 8-1-21-3, M Henriques 10-1-32-3, G Maxwell 2-0-6-0
Result: Australia won by 32 runs
Man of the Match: Phillip Hughes
Man of the series: Nuwan Kulasekera
Series: Five-match series drawn 2-2 with one game abandoned