Australia 215 for 5 (English 58, Marsh 52, Labuschagne 40, Maxwell 31*, Stoinis 20*, Madushanka 3-38) defeated Sri Lanka 209 (Perera 78, Nissanka 61, Zampa 4-47, Cummins 2-32, Starc 2-43) by five wickets
Australia chased down Sri Lanka’s target of 209 with some ease and revived their impressive World Cup campaign with a five-wicket win in Lucknow. The result leaves Sri Lanka second on the table with three losses from three and now essentially needs only a win to have a chance of reaching the semi-finals.
For Australia, it was a victory set up by a determined bowling effort, and then ended by an example of clarity of thought in chasing the target.
But a collapse of astonishing proportions saw them lose ten wickets for just 84 runs – their worst collapse in a World Cup since 2011, and Sri Lanka’s worst collapse since their inaugural World Cup game – as they were bundled out for 209 runs. Went.
Marsh lofted the first ball of the chase over mid-off off Lahiru Kumara and never looked back. After Kumara scored 15 runs in the opening over, Mahesh Theekshana was brought into the attack in the third over, he was hit with excellent fours and Marsh repeated the feat in Kumara’s next over. However, the worst was reserved for Dunith Velez, who hit three fours in his opening attack.
But on a surface where Cummins said he would have liked to bat first, it was a game won with the ball.
Sri Lanka’s partnerships tell the whole story. An important opening stand of 125, followed by a brief but industrious 32, and then… well, nothing. In fact, apart from those two top-order efforts, only two others passed double figures, and that too by narrow margins. Contrast this with Australia, who scored 24, 0, 57, 77, 34 and an unbeaten 23 on the way to victory.
The defeat is a matter of concern for Sri Lanka, who have now lost a promising position for the second consecutive game – the fourth time in five matches if you count the practice games. The game also highlighted what could happen if Mendes fails to fire; Despite the opening pair of Nissanka and Kusal Perera scoring 125 runs, Sri Lanka’s middle order failed to take advantage and were bowled out at 209 for 1 from 157 for 1.
Nissanka had scored against Pakistan, but Perera was coming into this game having recently recovered from a shoulder injury, and his recent form has not been good either. But a weak start from Australia’s fast bowlers meant that even though the Sri Lankan openers were not exactly adept at rotating the strike, there were enough boundary balls to ease any pressure.
Together, the pair produced Sri Lanka’s best start of the tournament, which would have seen them score a total of over 300, but no one could have predicted the extent of their subsequent collapse.
While the credit for opening Sri Lanka’s innings will largely go to Cummins who picked out both openers in the space of a few overs, a greater share of credit must go to Warner whose catching provided the openings.
Warner managed two high-trouble chances in the deep, edging one either side of Cummins and bowling Perera. The first was to get rid of Nissanka, who mistimed a hook into the safety of the empty midwicket area, only to see the patrolling Warner sprinting through deep square-leg and catch him at slide.
He caught an even better ball a few overs later, once again tearing the ball to his left – this time from deep midwicket – making an incredible amount of ground to deliver a wrong slog sweep off Mendis. He then had to nurse some injured knees for his trouble as his forward fall left Lucknow’s outfield in knots, but it was worth it as the Australians never looked back after that.
Zampa was the beneficiary of that second moment of brilliance from Warner, and he struck again an over later, trapping Sadira Samarawickrama LBW with a slider on the umpire’s call that barely clipped the leg stump. It was a marginal decision that left Samarawickrama shaking his head, but Australia will feel a not-out LBW call against Perera equalized when he was on 24, which would have seen three reds had they been reviewed.
That’s when the game was halted due to a brief rainstorm, followed by some strong winds, which blew some scaffolding and advertising hoardings off the roof of the stadium. When play continued, it was all Australia playing as Sri Lanka’s batsmen struggled to overcome the extra drag on the surface after the rain.
Dhananjaya de Silva fell just two balls after the restart, cutting a delivery from Starc, while a period of solid pressure saw Velez attempt an ill-advised effort at mid-on, only for Cummins to fall off the stumps. .
With the innings in freefall, a pair of Zampa googlies dismissed both Karunaratne and Theekshana, shortly before Starc bounced back to dismiss Kumara with an inch-perfect yorker. Charith Asalanka was the last man out with a slog sweep off Maxwell’s bowling.