Perth [Australia]: A quickfire half-century from all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and his 69-run partnership with skipper Aaron Finch helped defending champions Australia register a crucial seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their Group 1, Super 12 match of the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup at Perth on Tuesday.
With this win, Australia is in fourth position in the points table with 2 points, one place below Asian champions Sri Lanka, who are in third with two points. Chasing 158, Australia did not get a chance to hit boundaries easily as Lankan bowlers troubled them with their line and lengths. More than four overs went by when opener David Warner was caught by skipper Dasun Shanaka while attempting to drive. Spinner Maheesh Theekshana had given Lanka their first wicket at 26 runs and the southpaw was back in the pavilion for 11 off 10 balls.
Mitchell Marsh joined skipper Aaron Finch at the crease. Australia finished the powerplay without scoring even a single four or six, for the first time in their T20I history. In six overs, Australia was at 33/1, with Marsh (1) and Finch (9) at the crease.
In the second ball of the 8th over, Marsh broke the boundary drought by smashing Wanindu Hasaranga for a four and six. With that six, Australia crossed the 50-run mark in the 8th over.
Finch also let his arms loose at the first ball of the next over, launching a huge slog over wide-long on. Just when it seemed Aussies were accelerating, Marsh gave a catch to Bhanuka Rajapaksa at long-off. Dhananjaya de Silva sent Marsh back for 17 off 17 balls. Australia was 60/2 at this point in 8.3 overs.
Glenn Maxwell joined Finch. He swung things in Australia’s favour by smashing Hasaranga for two sixes and a four in the 10th over, which gave away 19 runs in total. At the end of 10 overs, Australia was at 85/2, with Maxwell (22) and Finch (23).
Maxwell had injected some life into the game, but was struck in the throat in 12th over. In the next over, Chamika Karunaratne picked up his wicket after Ashen Bandara caught him near the boundary rope. The all-rounder was dismissed for a quickfire 23 off 12 balls, reducing the Aussies to 89/3 in 12.2 overs.
Marcus Stoinis was next up at the crease. Australia reached the 100-run mark in 13.4 overs. Finch had kept one end steady with his patient approach while Stoinis feasted on the bowling of Shanaka and Hasaranga, smashing them for fours and sixes easily. Hasaranga, a star for SL all this while suffered the worst, smashed for 19 runs in his 15th over.
At the end of 15 overs, Australia was at 126/3, with Finch (27) and Stoinis (34) at the crease. Stoinis continued to assault the Lankan bowlers, forming a 20-ball 50-run partnership. He also brought up his half-century in just 17 balls, the fastest by an Aussie in T20I history.
The duo helped Australia win the match with 21 balls to spare and seven wickets in hand. Australia finished at 158/3 in 16.3 overs, with Stoinis having scored 59* in just 18 balls with four fours and six sixes and Finch unbeaten at 31* off 42 balls at the other end. Both had a partnership of 69 runs in just 25 balls.
Theekshana, Dhananjaya, Karunaratne took a wicket each for SL.
Earlier, Australian bowlers made a great comeback after a 69-run stand for the second wicket between Pathum Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva to reduce Sri Lanka to a modest 157/6 in their Group 1, Super 12 match of the ICC T20 World Cup in Perth on Tuesday.
A 69-run stand for the second wicket between Nissanka (40) and de Silva (26) kept the Lankans in a good position but the Aussies made comeback with some quick wickets, exploiting the Lankans’ tendency to hit loose shots. However, Charith Asalanka (38*) made sure his side finished on a decent note.
Put to bat first by Australia, Sri Lanka faced a huge blow when pacer Pat Cummins sent back in-form opener Kusal Mendis for just 5 off 6 balls after the batter skied a mistimed pull attempt that went straight into the hands of Mitchell Marsh at the midwicket region. Sri Lanka was 6/1.
Following this, opener Pathum Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva joined forces and kept the scoreboard ticking with some careful strike rotation and at least one boundary per over. However, at the later stages of the power-play, Aussie bowlers delivered some extras due to some sloppy bowling.
At the end of the power-play, Sri Lanka was at 36/1, with de Silva (6) and Nissanka (17).
The Asian champions reached the 50-run mark in eight overs and their inning seemed to be on the right track. A fifty-run stand for the second wicket was up between Silva (15) and Nissanka (28) in 41 balls.
At the end of 10 overs, Sri Lanka was at 63/1, with de Silva (17) and Nissanka (32) at the crease. The duo had collectively scored only four boundaries, focusing mostly on strike rotation.
The 69-run stand between Silva and Nissanka was broken by spinner Ashton Agar, after the former was caught brilliantly by David Warner at the long-off region. Silva was back in the hut for 26 off 23 balls and Lankans were 75/2 in 11.3 overs.
Charith Asalanka was the next man up for Sri Lanka, who made an immediate impact by smashing Marsh for a four and six in the 13th over.
A well-set Nissanka also had to return back after being run out by the pair of Marsh and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for 40 off 45 balls. Sri Lanka was 97/3.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa was the next batter on the crease. Sri Lanka touched the 100-run mark in 14.1 overs. He scored a boundary, but his stay was limited to just five balls by Mitchell Starc, who got his first victim of the day with assistance from Cummins. Sri Lanka was down 106/4 in 14.5 overs.
With five overs left, Sri Lanka was at 106/4, with Asalanka (16*) joined by skipper Dasun Shanaka. The Lankans continued to witness a slide in momentum as skipper Shanaka skied one, caught by Wade, giving Glenn Maxwell his first wicket for the day.
SL had lost half of their batters for 111 runs. They lost four wickets within space of just 36 runs, allowing the Aussies to make a comeback after the Silva-Nissanka stand.
Josh Hazlewood claimed the scalp of all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga for just one run. Hasanranga edged a length ball pitching at the seventh stump to give a catch to Wade. At 120/6 in 17.3 overs, SL needed some intervention to improve their situation.
Chamika Karunaratne joined Asalanka on the crease. Asalanka helped his side cross the 150-run mark in 19.5 overs. The final over by Cummins was extremely expensive as it gave away 20 runs.
Sri Lanka finished at 157/6, with Asalanka (38) and Karunaratne (14).
Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood, Agar and Maxwell got a wicket each.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka: 157/6 (Pathum Nissanka 40, Charith Asalanka 38, Glenn Maxwell 1/5) lost to Australia: 158/3 in 16.3 overs (Marcus Stoinis 59, Aaron Finch 31*, Chamika Karunaratne 1/20).