Lucknow: Australia have brought to life to their stuttering ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup campaign with an impressive five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at AB Vajpayee Stadium here on Monday.
Winless over the first two matches, the five-time World Cup champions showed some major signs of improvement as they successfully chased down Sri Lanka’s modest total of 209 with more than 14 overs remaining.
It looked like Sri Lanka were headed for a big score when openers Kusal Perera (78) and Pathum Nissanka (61) put on 125 for the opening wicket, but some inspired bowling from Adam Zampa (4/25), Mitchell Starc (2/43) and Pat Cummins (2/32) backed up with some good catching in the field meant the Asian side were restricted late in their innings.
Pacer Dilshan Madushanka (3/38) threatened to disrupt Australia’s chase as he removed experienced duo David Warner and Steve Smith with a superb double-wicket maiden early in the chase, but half-centuries to Josh Inglis (58) and Mitchell Marsh (52) some lofty late blows from Glenn Maxwell (31*) ensured the Aussies picked up their first win of the tournament.
The victory sees Australia improve to eighth on the World Cup standings, while Sri Lanka remain winless and with a mountain of work to do to stay in contention for a semi-final berth.
A chaotic start ensued for Australia in Lucknow. While Mitchell Marsh and David Warner took off in a brisk fashion, Dilshan Madushanka struck twice in the third over to give Sri Lanka hope. He had both David Warner (11) and Steve Smith trapped lbw.
However, Mitchell Marsh continued attacking from his end. He hit nine boundaries in the first 12 overs. He brought up his fifty off merely 39 balls, and ensured that Australia batted at a healthy strike-rate.
Sri Lanka struck back in the 15th over, when they had Marsh run out for 52.
A positive Josh Inglis, who began with back-to-back fours, and Marnus Labuschagne held the fort for Australia. Their 77-run stand helped stabilize the Australia chase. After Labuschagne’s dismissal for 40 in the 29th over, Inglis was joined by Maxwell.
The innings picked up pace at the back of Maxwell’s belligerence, and Australia closed in on a big win.
Sri Lanka lost three crucial wickets after the mid-innings mark. Cummins got one to jag back in the 27th over, and crashed into Kusal Perera’s stumps. In the very next over, Kusal Mendis (9) fell while trying to take on Zampa on the leg-side. David Warner came running in once more and held on to a brilliant take.
Previous game’s centurion Sadeera Samarawickrama fell lbw to Zampa in the 30th over.
Mitchell Starc managed to extract movement with the swinging ball early on in the Sri Lanka innings. He hit the pads of Pathum Nissanka off the very first ball, and Australia went up for a review after being turned down. However, they lost the review after it turned out that there was an inside edge.
The Sri Lanka openers let out a number of quality drives and cuts over the next few overs to get the innings going.
Nissanka and Kusal Perera carried their attacking game into the next Powerplay, taking 33 runs between overs 11-15. They opened their arms against the leg-spinner, Zampa, and took 16 off his first two overs. Perera brought up his half-century in the 19th over, while Nissanka followed with one of his own in the 20th over.
Australia finally had a breakthrough in the 21st over when Nissanka (61) pulled a Pat Cummins delivery in the deep and ended up placing it towards the mid-wicket region. David Warner covered a substantial amount of ground to his left before holding on to an exceptional catch.
However, Perera kept Sri Lanka’s attack up and hit four fours in the next three overs.
Sri Lanka’s new skipper Mendis called it right at the toss and elected to bat first. He opined that a total in the range of 280-300 would be safe for his side, and that the ball might do a bit more under the lights.
Chamika Karunaratne and Lahiru Kumara came into Sri Lanka’s XI in place of Dasun Shanaka and Matheesha Pathirana, while Australia went with the same side that played against South Africa.
Sri Lanka received a blow leading into the game in the form of a quad injury to their skipper Dasun Shanaka. The all-rounder has been ruled out of the tournament, with Mendis taking the captaincy reins.
Australia enjoy a head-to-head advantage over Sri Lanka, having won 63 games to 35 losses, but the Lions have proven to be a handy customer in Asia. Here the sides are evenly matched in the results column, with 18 successes to each of them.