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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 18:39 GMT
Australia survive Murali test
Muttiah Muralitharan (centre) is congratulated by his jubilant team-mates Kumar Sangakkara (left) and Aravinda De Silva
Muralitharan (centre) worried the victorious Australians
VB Series, Brisbane: Sri Lanka 211-9 (50 overs) v Australia 214-6

Michael Bevan guided Australia to a four-wicket victory against Sri Lanka despite an excellent bowling display by Muttiah Muralitharan.

The Sri Lanka spinner, who took four for 27, produced his best display since returning from injury to keep his side in the hunt as they tried to protect a target of just 212.

In the end the tourists had too few runs to play with and Bevan collected an unbeaten 45, ushering the Australians home with seven balls to spare.

The result leaves Australia well clear at the top of the VB Series table and means England stand a good chance of reaching the finals it they win one of their two remaining matches.

Brad Hogg celebrates a wicket for Australia
Brad Hogg took two wickets for Australia

Sri Lanka made a poor start after winning the toss and soon found themselves three wickets down.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Hashan Tillakaratne fell to run outs early on before Brett Lee had Aravinda De Silva caught without scoring to leave Sri Lanka 35 for three.

Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene put on 112 for the fourth wicket before Glenn McGrath, returning from a back injury, had Atapattu caught for 70.

Jayawardene eventually went for 56, and Kumar Sangakkara (42 not out) was the only other player to reach double figures as the visitors failed to post a defendable total.

VB Series table
Australia P6 W5 L1 BP2 Pts27 RR0.66
England P6 W2 L4 BP1 Pts14 RR-0.05
Sri Lanka P6 W2 L4 BP1 Pts13 RR-0.60

Brad Hogg picked up two wickets before the last two men went the same way as the first couple, falling to run outs.

Jimmy Maher, in for the rested Adam Gilchrist, and Matthew Hayden put on 76 in a solid start, before Maher fell to a great leg-side stumping in the 14th over.

Murali continued to cause Australia plenty of trouble, despite limping off with a leg injury midway through the Australian innings.

Muttiah Muralitharan is helped from the field by the Sri Lankan physio
An injured Murali had to leave the field at one point

Despite pulling a thigh muscle in the field, the spinner returned to complete his 10-over spell off a shorter run-up.

A mid-innings collapse saw Australia stumble to 104, but Darren Lehmann and Bevan made the match safe for Australia.

Lehmann was eventually run out for 38 but, apart from a spell when he was unsettled as Dilhara Fernando banged the ball in, Bevan looked well in control.

And he finished the match off by coming down the wicket and drilling Aravinda De Silva for four as Australia eased home.


Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Jimmy Maher, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Darren Lehmann, Shane Watson, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Brad Williams, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds (12th man).

Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya (captain), Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Aravinda de Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Russel Arnold, Chaminda Vaas, Buddhika Fernando, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Hashan Tillakaratne, Jehan Mubarak (12th man).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Adam Mountford:
"Sri Lanka will rue four run outs in their innings"
England take on Australia and Sri Lanka

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RESULT/FIXTURES
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