Australia Defeat Sri Lanka In Run-fest

Australia have defeated Sri Lanka by 64 runs at the SCG on Sunday evening. Centuries by Glenn Maxwell and Kumar Sangakara provided an exciting match for a packed house in the Pool A match of the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

The Aussies got off to an uncharacteristically slow start losing both David Warner for only 9 runs and Finch for just 24. Warner was fooled by a Lasinth Malinga slower ball, spooning the delivery to cover. Finch missed a slider down the leg side, stumped by Kumar Sangakara and the hosts were 2/41 from 9 overs.

The Sri Lankans were looking pumped in the field. Steve Smith and Michael Clarke were forced to play a more traditional 50-over innings each, lowering the rate of runs in the face of some good, tight bowling.

Persistent diving and sliding in the field limited the score to an uncomfortable pursuit of preventing the Aussies gaining any momentum. Smith and Clarke rallied for a 134 run partnership.

Smith, the first to hit his half century, looked the most comfortable he has all tournament. With some luscious straight hitting and patient working of the ball,  he and Clarke provided a professional response to the Sri Lankan attack.

Clarke hit a genuine 68 (68) that included 6 boundaries. It was the most time Clarke has spent in the middle since re-injuring his hamstring last November. 

Smith was removed for 72 (88) as he tried to lift the run rate in the second-half of the innings. Thisara Perera caught a high ball well at long on off the bowling of Dilshan to remove the young Aussie batsman. 

Michael Clarke was bowled by a Lasinthe Malinga fireball as he too went to go long off a straight delivery. 

Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson strode to the crease, both keen to prove themselves on the World stage. Watson was included in the Australian line-up for his bowling as a replacement for Mitchell Marsh, after being left out of the last match due to poor performances with the bat. 

Glenn Maxwell began a memorable innings with some flamboyant stroke-play. The enigmatic all-rounder knocked the Sri Lankan bowlers all around the SCG. Maxwell hit a 51-ball century, the fastest ODI centruy from an Australian batsman and the second fastest World Cup century. Maxwell’s innings included 10 boundaries and 4 sixes.

“I was happy to hit a couple off the middle and get that monkey off the back,” man of the match Maxwell commented after the match, having hit his maiden ODI century.

Shane Watson provided some good support. Silencing some critics with a 41 ball 67 of his own. The hit a 150 run partnership from 77 balls to help boost the Aussie total to a more comfortable level. 

Brad Haddin added his own flavour to the innings with a quick-fire 25 from 9 balls as the Australians posted a defensible 9/376 from their 50 overs.

Sri Lanka needed a good start. Mitchell Johnson had something to say about that, ripping a 147 kph bouncer with the hard ball, catching  Thirimanne’s glove on its way to Brad Haddin behind the stumps in his first over.

Veterans Dilshan and Sangakara combined for an important partnership to see through the ferocious pace attack. Dilshan incredibly hit Mitchell Johnson for 6 boundaries in a row. He looked in good touch but was deceived by a James Faulkner slower ball, caught LBW for 62 (60). 

Another veteran in Jayawardene was removed just as he began to look comfortable. A dead-eye run out from captain Michael Clarke had him caught well short of the crease and Sri Lanka down 3/188 from 31 overs. 

Kumar Sangakara was superb. He hit his third consecutive hundred in the World Cup from 100 balls. He was dismissed by Faulker after trying to go after the delivery, only to mistime it high in the air for Aaron Finch to claim well in the deep. 

“He is in the form of his life,” commented captain Angelo Mathews after the match on the back of another impressive performance from the dynamic batsman.

An electric partnership was formed between captain Angelo Mathews and Chandimal, but it was cut short when Chandimal had to leave the field with a hamstring injury on 52 (37). 

The rest of the tail combined for a further 31 runs. James Faulkner‘s return heralded 3/48 from 9 overs, welcome figures that included some breakthrough wickets. 

“I thought it was going to go down to the wire,” Steve Smith commented to Neroli Meadows after the match.

“Maxwell and Watson played beautifully and set the game up for us.”

Australia have most of the week off before playing Scotland next Saturday in Hobart. The Australians sit safely in second behind the Kiwis in Pool A.