After losing their opening match to neighbours New Zealand by a big margin, Australia had to win against Sri Lanka to keep alive their hopes of making it to the knockout rounds. Tuesday’s comprehensive win gave the hosts a huge boost in their NRR.
Disciplined bowling by the Aussies kept Sri Lanka quiet for the major part of their innings but Charith Asalanka and Chamika Karunaratne, with their late cameos, added 37 runs from the last 15 deliveries to help Sri Lanka to a respectable total of 157/6 in 20 overs after being invited to bat first.
Asalanka remained unbeaten on 38 from 25 deliveries while Karunaratne scored a useful 14 from seven deliveries after walking in to bat at number eight. Pathum Nissanka (40) and Dhananjaya de Silva (26) also got off to good starts but they couldn’t accelerate, ending their innings at underwhelming strike rates of 88.89 and 113.04 respectively.
With a fighting total on the board, the Sri Lankan bowlers kept the Australian batters under a leash as the hosts struggled to score quick runs.
The spinners bowled brilliantly in the initial overs and Maheesh Theekshana also gave Sri Lanka their first breakthrough as he dismissed David Warner for just 11 runs. Australia didn’t lose a heap of wickets after that but skipper Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh found it very difficult to read the Lankan bowlers.
It looked like the game was heading towards a close finish but Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis took the Sri Lankan spinners apart. It was Maxwell who started the carnage with a 12-ball 23 and Stoinis followed it with massive fireworks as he made his way to an unbeaten 59 from just 18 deliveries, an innings consisting of four fours and six huge sixes.
Stoinis’ assault along with skipper Aaron Finch helped Australia in chasing down the target with seven wickets and 21 deliveries to spare. Dhananjaya de Silva (1/18) was the least expensive bowler for Sri Lanka.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 157/6 in 20 overs (Pathum Nissanka 40, Charith Asalanka 38 not out; Glenn Maxwell 1/5) lost to Australia 158/3 in 16.3 overs (Marcus Stoinis 59 not out, Aaron Finch 31 not out; Dhananjaya de Silva 1/18) by 7 wickets.