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Hughes century helps Australia level ODI series



Hobart: Phil Hughes returned to form with a century before Xavier Doherty and Moises Henriques took three wickets each to lead Australia to a series-levelling 32-run win over Sri Lanka in the final One-day cricket international.  Hughes struck 138 not out at Bellerive Oval but Sri Lanka were on course to overhaul Australia's 247-5 until Doherty exploited spin-friendly conditions to dismiss three of the tourists' top four batsmen.

Pressure from Doherty reduced Sri Lanka from 50-0 at the 10-over mark to 85-4 from 25 and the tourists never fully recovered, stumbling to 215 all out and a 2-2 draw in the five-match series.

Australia still have batting concerns despite Hughes's second ton of the series, with David Hussey's 34 the next highest score, but the team showed spirit in the absence of injured captain Michael Clarke. Australia's recent woes, which included a disappointing 170 all out in Adelaide and a shambolic 74 all out in Brisbane, looked set to continue when the home side crawled to 62-2 from 20 overs.

Hughes, however, overcame a slow start to rediscover the fluency he showed earlier in the series with an unbeaten 154-ball innings, hitting out with particular flair after he reached his century.

"Give yourself time early and you can always catch up later," Hughes said. "It was one of those innings today. I had found it quite tough but luckily enough I got a few away at the end. We had wickets in hand and that was always in the back of our mind."

Signalling his team's preference to chase a target rather than set one, Sri Lanka captain Mahele Jayawardene opted to bowl first and handed the ball to Tillakaratne Dilshan for the first over. Dilshan did not get to bowl in on Sunday's fourth match in Sydney — where Sri Lanka were on top until rain forced an abandonment — but he turned the new ball immediately.

He beat David Warner's outside edge to bowl him for 10 and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, pushed up the order to open, was trapped lbw by man-of-the-series Nuwan Kulasekara soon after. Australia failed even to equal their dismal series average of 71-4 at 20 overs but made the most of the wickets in hand.

Hughes had a let-off on 20 when an inside edge from Angelo Mathews rolled on to the foot of stumps but failed to dislodge the bails. He gathered momentum from that point, adding 60 from 96 balls for the third wicket with captain George Bailey (17) and 98 from 102 with Hussey.

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