Sri Lankans fine-tune with a win

Sri Lanka tour of Australia, Tour match: New South Wales v Sri Lankans at Sydney, Oct 27, 2010

Sri Lankans 167/4 (20/20 ov) beat New South Wales 99/2 (14.0/14 ov) by 23 runs (D/L method)

Sydney’s fiendish peak-hour traffic held up Sri Lanka and its weather denied their bowlers invaluable match practice, but Mahela Jayawardene gave fans in western Sydney a memento against NSW in the Twenty20 match at Blacktown Olympic Park.

Jayawardene smashed 59 off 35 balls in the tourists’ 23-run win and, along with Tillakaratne Dilshan, ensured speedster Brett Lee’s disappointing week continued.

Lee, overlooked for Australia’s Twenty20 and ODI squads earlier this week, conceded 44 runs from four wicketless overs as Sri Lanka posted an imposing 4-167 from 20 overs 

In pursuit of a revised target of 123 from 14 overs after a 45-minute rain delay, the Blues reached a modest 2-99, with Usman Khawaja top-scoring with an unbeaten 32, but their chase lost impetus after the dismissal of opener Phillip Hughes for 30.

More importantly for the tourists, their bowlers will enter Sunday’s Twenty20 clash with Australia in Perth with cobwebs to shake off.

But at least their batsmen have reason to head west with confidence. Having agreed to Sri Lanka’s request to push back the match by 15 minutes after the visitors were caught in traffic, the Blues were punished by Dilshan and Jayawardene, whose 57-run opening stand helped their side reach the 100 mark inside 10 overs.

Thwarted by Sri Lanka Cricket from using Dilshan’s services for this summer’s Big Bash, the Blues were given a glimpse of what they would be missing out on.

Dilshan hit 21 off 19 balls, including an exquisite square-cut off Sean Abbott, but ended up being the Blues youngster’s first wicket in state colours when he was caught behind trying to glide a wide delivery down to third man. He was upstaged by Jayawardene, who made the Blues pay for dropping him on 27. Jayawardene’s dismissal in the 14th over off the bowling of stand-in Blues captain Stephen O’Keefe, slowed down the Sri Lankans, who found the going tougher in the closing

After huffing and puffing to national selectors earlier this week, Lee did little to convince Andrew Hilditch that he was ready for a recall to the Australian team. Although the sluggish pitch was not in his favour, the 33-year-old did not trouble the Sri Lankans. He rarely beat the bat and had 18 runs taken off his opening spell of two overs. Reintroduced late in the innings, the one-time golden boy of Australian cricket was treated with disdain by Chamara Kapugedera and hit over the pickets on two consecutive occasions.

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