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Australia captain Aaron Finch kisses the helmet after reaching his century.—AFP
Australia captain Aaron Finch kisses the helmet after reaching his century.—AFP

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch and pace bowler Mitchell Starc stole the show as the holders eased to an 87-run win over Sri Lanka at The Oval on Saturday.

Finch equalled his career-best one-day international score with a masterful 153 and Steve Smith chipped in with 73 as Australia scored 334-7.

Needing a World Cup record run-chase to claim a shock win, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start thanks to a first-wicket partnership of 115 between captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera.

But Perera departed for 52 and when Karunaratne fell for a gallant 97 the game swung back in Australia’s direction.

Starc was the catalyst with a fiery spell of three wickets in six balls, Australia eventually dismissing Sri Lanka for 247 thanks in large part to his 4-55 from 10 overs.

Kane Richardson added three wickets of his own as Australia made it four wins from their five group matches.

Sri Lanka, who lost their last seven wickets for 42 runs, have only one win from their five matches, a disappointing run that includes two washouts.

Sri Lanka had briefly looked capable of surpassing the World Cup chase set by Ireland in 2011.

Karunaratne and his opening partner Perera blasted 24 from the first two overs and reached their fifty partnership in just the seventh over. But Starc bowled Perera and Jason Behrendorff dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne for 16 as Australia hit back.

A six from Kusal Mendis in the 31st over signalled Sri Lanka’s intent to get cracking.

But crucially Karunaratne stumbled short of his maiden World Cup century when he carelessly flicked Richar­dson to Glenn Maxwell at backward point.

That left Sri Lanka 186-3 and set the stage for Starc to turn the screw by dismissing Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera and Mendis in quick succession.

Mendis’ mistimed drive off Starc reduced Sri Lanka to 222-7 and shattered their resistance.

Earlier, Finch took the Sri Lanka attack apart with a dazzling display that inc­lu­ded 15 fours and five sixes.

He was well-supported by Smith’s 73 from 59 balls and the pair put on 173 for the third wicket.

Together with David Warner, Finch took the attack to the Sri Lankans after being put in to bat under cloudy skies. The pair passed fifty for the opening wicket for the fourth time in five games at the World Cup.

Sri Lanka had no answer to Finch’s brutal assault and by the time he departed, caught by Karunaratne off Isuru Udana, he had put Australia in a commanding position.

Maxwell’s quick-fire 46 from 25 balls rubbed salt into Sri Lanka’s wounds.

Scoreboard

AUSTRALIA:

Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

D.A. Warner b de Silva 26 48 2 0 54.16
A.J. Finch c Karunaratne b Udana 153 132 15 5 115.90
U.T. Khawaja c Udana b de Silva 10 20 1 0 50.00
S.P.D. Smith b Malinga 73 59 7 1 123.72
G.J. Maxwell not out 46 25 5 1 184.00
S.E. Marsh c Siriwardana b Udana 3 9 0 0 33.33
A.T. Carey run out 4 3 0 0 133.33
P.J. Cummins run out 0 1 0 0 0.00
M.A. Starc not out 5 4 0 0 125.00

EXTRAS (LB-4, W-9, NB-1) 14 - - - --

TOTAL (for seven wkts, 50 overs) 334 - - - --

FALL OF WKTS: 1-80 (Warner, 16.4 ov), 2-100 (Khawaja, 22.6 ov), 3-273 (Finch, 42.4 ov), 4-278 (Smith, 43.3 ov), 5-310 (Marsh, 46.6 ov), 6-317 (Carey, 48.1 ov), 7-320 (Cummins, 48.3 ov).

DID NOT BAT: J.P. Behrendorff, K.W. Richardson.

BOWLING: Malinga 10-1-621-1 (1nb, 3w); Pradeep 10-0-88-0 (1w); Udana 10-0-57-2 (1w); N.L.T.C. Perera 10-0-67-0 (1w); de Silva 8-0-40-2 (2w); Siriwardana 2-0-17-0.

SRI LANKA:

Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

F.D.M. Karunaratne c Maxwell b Richardson 97 108 9 0 89.81
M.D.K.J. Perera b Starc 52 36 5 1 144.44
H.D.R.L. Thirimanne c Carey b Behrendorff 16 26 1 0 61.53
B.K.G. Mendis c Carey b Starc 30 37 0 2 81.08
A.D. Mathews c Carey b Cummins 9 11 2 0 81.81
T.A.M. Siriwardana b Starc 3 4 0 0 75.00
N.L.T.C. Perera c Warner b Starc 7 3 0 1 233.33
D.M. de Silva not out 16 30 2 0 53.33
I. Udana c Finch b Richardson 8 8 1 0 100.00
S.L. Malinga c Khawaja b Richardson 1 5 0 0 20.00
N. Pradeep c Carey b Cummins 0 7 0 0 0.00

EXTRAS (LB-2, W-6) 8 - - - --

TOTAL (all out, 45.5 overs) 247 - - - --

FALL OF WKTS: 1-115 (M.D.K.J. Perera, 15.3 ov), 2-153 (Thirimanne, 23.5 ov), 3-186 (Karunaratne, 32.1 ov), 4-205 (Mathews, 35.4 ov), 5-209 (Siriwardana, 36.2 ov), 6-217 (N.L.T.C. Perera, 36.6 ov), 7-222 (Mendis, 38.1 ov), 8-236 (Udana, 39.6 ov), 9-237 (Malinga, 41.4 ov), 10-247 (Pradeep, 45.5 ov).

BOWLING: Starc 10-0-55-4 (1w); Cummins 7.5-0-38-2 (2w); Behrendorff 9-0-59-1; Richardson 9-1-47-3 (2w); Maxwell 10-0-46-0 (1w).

RESULT: Australia won by 87 runs.

UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and R.K. Illingworth (England).

TV UMPIRE: M.A. Gough (England).

MATCH REFEREE: J.J. Crowe (New Zealand).

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Aaron Finch.

STANDINGS

(Tabulated under played, won, lost, no-result, points, net run-rate):

Australia 5 4 1 0 8 +0.812

New Zealand 4 3 0 1 7 +2.163

England 4 3 1 0 6 +1.557

India 3 2 0 1 5 +0.539

Sri Lanka 5 1 2 2 4 -1.778

West Indies 4 1 2 1 3 +0.666

Bangladesh 4 1 2 1 3 -0.714

Pakistan 4 1 2 1 3 -1.796

South Africa 4 0 3 1 1 -0.952

Afghanistan 3 0 3 0 0 -1.493

Updated after Australia vs Sri Lanka match on Saturday

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2019