Aussie Kangaroos bite the Lankan Lions in Sydney

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Australia held a spirited Lankan onslaught to defeat the Islanders by 64 runs in their group A encounter in front of a sold-out crowd at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Chasing a mammoth target of 377 runs, riding on Sangakkara’s classic century and Dilshan’s belligerent knock, Sri Lanka was on course for a thrilling victory over Australia. But the dismissal of Sangakkara and Dilshan denied the one-time former champions and Australia took it from there and dismissed Sri Lanka for 312. Sri Lanka chase was dented by the injury Dinesh Chandimal who scored a quick-fire 52 off just 24 balls with 8 fours and a huge six.

Earlier, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell led a brutal Australian assault with his maiden ODI hundred as the four-time champions posted a mammoth 376 for 9 against a hapless Sri Lanka bowling attack with only Lasith Malinga bowling responsibly. 

Michael Clarke had no hesitation in batting first after winning the toss. Sri Lanka made three changes to the team bringing in Sachithra Senanayake, Seekuge Prasanna and Upul Thranaga in place of injured duo of Rangana Herath and Dimuth Karunarathne while seamer Suranga Lakmal was also left out. Australia made two changes from the previous game against Afghans.

Lasith Malinga’s brilliant skills with the new ball took out David Warner as he first bowled a Yorker and then followed it up with a slower delivery. Sri Lanka injected spin early on and it worked out perfectly as Seekuge Prasanna trapped down Aaron Finch as the right-hander read a slider wrongly and came down the wicket, easy work for Sangakkara behind the stumps. Australia’s two best players of spin, Steven Smith and skipper Clarke used their feet and crease perfectly to negotiate the Lankan spinners. Senanayake was slower in the air and he bowled short to Smith and Clarke as they nicely laid the foundation for the Maxwell show. 

The pitch was assisting the spinners but Sri Lanka lacked a proper spinner who can turn it sharply and trouble the Aussies. Maxwell came in and played another trademark knock with exciting slogs through mid-wicket and long-off. He fell just short of hitting the quickest-ever World Cup century, but made the milestone, his first in ODIs for Australia – in 51 balls, smashing a woeful Sri Lankan attack for 10 boundaries and four sixes. Shane Watson played the calmer innings which enabled Maxwell to free his arms. 

Australia was 199 for 4 in 35 overs and they made 177 in 15 overs in an impeccable run-rate of 11.8. Apart of Malinga, all others struggled to hold the marauding Australians. Average death bowling would always costs the Lankan in the coming games. 

The Lankan chase got off to a minor setback with Thirimanne being dismissed by a rising Mitchell Johnson delivery but Dilshan and Sangakkara made sure Sri Lanka stays on course in the chase. Dilshan gave a nice thumping to Johnson in the 6th over where he smashed 6 consecutive fours and it picked up moment for the Lions. Sangakkara and Dilshan were ferociously cutting and driving on a pitch which had runs written all over it. Dilshan gave a chance when he was 46 but he went onto make his half-ton and was associated in a 130-run stand for the 2nd wicket but lost his concentration.   

Sangakkara paced his knock perfectly and he reached 14,000 ODI runs and became the only player after Sachin Tendulkar to do so but he made a first when he flicked Faulkner for 2 runs in the 32nd over to reach his ton and becoming the first player in World Cup history to manage three hundreds in a row. 

Run-out of  Mahela Jayawardene and dismissal of Sangakkara tested Sri Lanka’s batting depth but Dinesh Chandimal silenced his critics and continued his good run in Australia as he smashed the Aussie bowling to all-parts of the ground in an important half-ton which came in just 22 balls but he had to retire due to a leg strain and it ended a superb 80-run partnership in 44 balls with his skipper. Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera were dismissed in two overs and the Lankan hopes of a record chase were slowly shattered as the Aussie seamers wrapped up the tail easily.

Sri Lanka will take on Scotland in their last group stage match on 11th March at Hobart. Bowling will be a major worry for Sri Lanka in a possible quarter-final clash with South Africa. Malinga has picked up rhythm and will be the strike bowler for Sri Lanka while Chandimal’s return to form is a good sign for Sri Lanka as the tournament is heading towards the business end.

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