Australia thrashed Sri Lanka by seven wickets in a Group I match of the ICC T20 World Cup Super 12 stage here on Thursday with explosive opener David Warner’s 65-run knock, back in the limelight after a long time. Warner put on 10 fours in his 42-ball innings and shared a 70-run partnership with captain Aaron Finch in 6.5 overs for the first wicket. Finch hit five fours and two sixes during his innings of 37 off 23 balls. Warner also put on a half-century partnership for the third wicket with former captain Steve Smith (28 not out off 26 balls).
Australia chased down Sri Lanka’s target of 155 for the loss of three wickets with 18 balls to spare. This is Australia’s second win in two matches. The team is second only to England in the group table. Sri Lanka are fourth in the same number of matches with one win and one loss. Sri Lanka scored 154 for six with Bhanuka Rajapaksa (33 not out) in the last over after Kusal Perera and Charith Aslanka scored 35 runs each. Perera hit 25 balls while Aslanka hit four fours and a six in his 27-ball innings. Rajapaksa also hit four fours and a six in his 26-ball unbeaten innings. Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc took two wickets each for Australia. Zampa was quite economical in this. Man of the match Zampa conceded just 12 runs in four overs.
Chasing the target, Warner and Finch gave Australia a very quick start. Finch hit two fours in the first over of Chamika Karunaratne, while Warner hit a four against Mahish. Both scored 20 runs from the third over of Lahiru Kumara’s innings. This included Finch’s six and four while Warner’s two fours were included. Finch then hit a six and then a four against Dushmanta Chamira in the first two balls of the fifth over. Wicketkeeper Kusal Perera dropped his easy catch on the fourth ball of the same over. Australia scored 63 for no loss in the powerplay.
Warner hit a four off Wanindu Hasaranga in the seventh over but the team’s most successful bowler for some time showed the way to the pavilion to Finch and then to Glenn Maxwell in his next over. His ball took the inner edge of Finch’s bat and went to the wickets. Maxwell got caught by Avishka Fernando in the process of hitting a big shot. He scored five runs. Hasranga took two wickets for 22 runs in four overs. Australia meanwhile completed 100 runs in the 11th over, while Warner completed his fifty in 31 balls with a four in the first ball of the 12th over and a run in the third ball. He increased the run rate by hitting two consecutive fours against Chamira in the 14th over, but in the 15th over, captain Dasun Shanaka was caught by Bhanuka Rajapaksa on the last ball.
Australia now needed 25 runs in the last five overs. Smith and Marcus Stoinis (not out) took some big shots to give the team victory in the 17th over itself. Stoinis remained unbeaten on 16 runs in seven balls with the help of two fours and a six. After winning the toss and electing to bowl, Pat Cummins gave Sri Lanka the first blow by getting Pathum Nisanka (7) caught by David Warner in the third over. Charith Aslanka, who was running in superb rhythm, after hitting two consecutive fours in this over as soon as he stepped on the crease, welcomed Maxwell with a six in the next over. He then hit another boundary. Sri Lanka scored 16 runs from Maxwell’s over. Opener Kusal Perera hit a four against Cummins, taking Sri Lanka to 53 for one in the powerplay.
Perera tried to increase the run-rate in the ninth over by hitting two consecutive fours against Marcus Stoinis but Adam Zampa trapped Aslanka in his spin in the 10th over. Aslanka gave an easy catch to Steve Smith in an attempt to sweep. He shared a 63-run partnership with Perera for the second wicket. Captain Finch gave the ball to Mitchell Starc in the 11th over and Perera hit a lofty six off his second ball but was bowled on the next ball.
Zampa gave Sri Lanka the fourth and fifth blow in the 12th over by Avishka Fernando (four) and Cummins running Hasaranga (four) in the 13th over. Sri Lanka’s run-rate came to a halt after losing four wickets within sixteen runs but Rajapaksa smashed two consecutive fours and then a six against Stoinis to collect 17 runs from the 17th over. In the next over, captain Dasun Shanaka hit a four against Pat Cummins but was caught by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade in the process of playing another big shot. He scored 12 runs in 19 balls. The Sri Lankan team managed to put up a competitive score after scoring 19 runs in the last two overs even after hitting just two fours.