Hussey guides Australia to 3-0 win


Mike Hussey has finished his international career in a situation he is well accustomed to: playing an influential role in shepherding his team to victory.

The revered left-hander was unbeaten on 27 as Australia survived some middle-order jitters to end his team's Test summer, and his own 79-Test career, with a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka at the SCG.

Hussey, 37, arrived at the crease to rapturous applause with Australia needing only 37 for victory with seven wickets in hand, but an over later he suddenly became the key man after opener Ed Cowan was trapped leg-before for 36.

At that stage Australia had lost 2-4 in nine deliveries to slump to 4-108 chasing 141, with no specialist batsmen beyond Hussey's new partner Matthew Wade.

Sri Lanka relied entirely on spin, left-arm tweaker Rangana Herath and part-timer Tillakaratne Dilshan, to break the partnership and slow Australia's pursuit of victory.

Hussey proved he was not daunted by the occasion by expertly reverse-sweeping Herath to the boundary to reduce Australia's remaining runs target to 10.

He then faced even more pressure when, three balls later, Wade tried to pull Herath but misjudged the bounce and was bowled, giving the Sri Lankan left-armer his seventh wicket for the match.

Umpires Aleem Dar and Tony Hill delayed the tea break by 15 minutes due to the imminent result. Even though Australia was only five runs from victory when the second deadline arrived, play was halted for the 20-minute break.

When the match resumed and Australia's target fell to two runs within an over the crowd was desperate for Hussey to hit the winning runs, which was evident in huge cheers for Johnson blocking innocuous deliveries.

In the 43rd over Hussey nudged a single off Herath to level the scores. Two balls later Johnson hit Herath to deep point and, at the urging of Hussey but the disappointment of the crowd, scored the run that took Australia to a triumphant 5-141.

The result extended Sri Lanka's record of having yet to win in 13 Test matches in Australia, with all but two of those ending in losses.

Day four began with Sri Lanka's tail wagging significantly more than it had earlier in the match. Rangana Herath (10 off 31) and Nuwan Pradeep (9 off 24) survived long enough to allow wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal reach an impressive unbeaten half-century. The visitors added 53 runs on day four before they were dismissed for 278.

After Chandimal shared a 33-run partnership with Herath, his approach became decidedly more aggressive with the fall of the ninth wicket, when Suranga Lakmal appallingly stepped away from his stumps as Mitch Johnson reached his delivery stride and was bowled aiming a wild slog.

Chandimal plundered three boundaries in a single Bird over to move into the 40s. Pradeep survived long enough for his 23-year-old partner to reach his fourth half-century in just his fifth Test.

The partnership lasted long enough for Australia captain Michael Clarke to have to take then second new ball. Bird, who shared the new ball with Mitch Starc, conceded a straight-driven boundary to Pradeep with his first delivery but got his revenge with the next ball, to dismiss him for nine and claim his third wicket for the innings and seventh for the match.

Sri Lanka's last-wicket stand produced 41 runs and lasted just three minutes short of an hour.

David Warner was a second-over casualty in Australia's chase, edging Lakmal to second slip for a golden duck. Sri Lanka's desperation for a second breakthrough was evident in the poor referral it made about a failed leg-before appeal from Tillakaratne Dilshan, who was given the new ball, against Phillip Hughes, which was dismissed as the ball would have passed well wide of off-stump.

While Sri Lanka successfully referred a decision in the second session, to remove Phillip Hughes leg-before for 34, it then made another all-advised challenge seeking the scalp of Clarke for 13. It meant Sri Lanka had exhausted its reviews by the 25th over.

Clarke's eventual departure for 29, caught at short-leg off Dilshan, brought Hussey to the crease - much to the relief of the adoring crowd which feared Australia may pass the total before the 37-year-old was called upon.

The subsequent departures of Cowan and Wade meant Hussey's innings was, fittingly, not simply a cameo.

Michael Hussey retires from international cricket after the Third Test against Sri Lanka. Picture: Brendan Esposito

Michael Hussey retires from international cricket after the Third Test against Sri Lanka. Picture: Brendan Esposito


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