*Representational image credit x.com
New Delhi, 17 October: Australia desperately needed a lifeline and Sri Lanka provided them with that, as the five-time champions defeated the Islanders by five wickets with 14.4 overs to spare, for their first win in three outings, to stay alive in the ICC World cup this evening in Lucknow.
SriLanka, winning the toss opted to bat first and was off to a bright start with their openers Kusal Perera (78,82b,12x4) and Pathum Nissanka (61,67b,8x4)) put on 125 for the first wicket but then leg -spinner Adam Zampa (4 for 47) triggered a sensational collapse as one-time champion lost their ten wickets for 84 runs t0 be all out for 209 in 43.3
Australia on the other hand had a chaotic start as they lost two wickets for 24 runs in 4 overs but then Mitchell Marsh (52) and Marnus Labususchagne (40) stepped in to stem the rot and rebuild the innings with57-run partnership and in the process laid foundation for their side's win
It was Dilshan Madushanka struck twice in the third over to give Sri Lanka hope. He had both David Warner (11) and Steve Smith (o)trapped lbw.
However, Mitchell Marsh continued attacking from his end, hitting nine boundaries in the first 12 overs. He brought up his fifty off merely 39 balls, and ensured that Australia batted at a good strike rate. Sri Lanka struck back in the 15th over when they had Marsh run out for 52(51,9x4).
Josh Inglis kept the scoreboard moving, with back-to-back fours and along with Marnus Labuschagne held the fort for Australia putting up 77-runs for the fourth wicket.
Labuschagne was dismissed for 40 (60b,2x4) by Madushanka, but new batter Maxwell strengthened Australia's charge towards a better net run rate, smashing two sixes and four fours in his first 14 balls, to get to 28.
Inglis (58,59 b5x4,1x6) lost his wicket when the score was 192 but he had done his job, Maxwell (31 not out,4x4,2x6) and Marcus Stonis (20,10b,2x4,2x6) to steer Australia to victory which they needed
Earlier Sri Lanka's new skipper Mendis won the toss and opted to bat. He opined that a total in the range of 280-300 would be safe for his side and that the ball might do a bit more under the lights. Chamika Karunaratne and Lahiru Kumara came into Sri Lanka's XI in place of Dasun Shanaka and Matheesha Pathirana, while Australia went with the same side that played against South Africa.
It looked like Sri Lanka were headed for another big score when openers Kusal Perera (78,82b,12x4) and Pathum Nissanka (61,67b,8x4)) put on 125 for the opening wicket, but then could not sustain the momentum while other batters virtually threw away their wicket by careless an unimaginative batting. Apart from the openers and Charith Asalanka's 25, no other Sri Lankan batter reached double digits
On the other hand, some inspired bowling from beleaguered Zampa, Mitchell Starc (2/43) and Pat Cummins (2/32) backed up with some good catching restricted the Islanders late in their innings.
Sri Lanka lost three crucial wickets after the mid-innings mark. in the 27th over, Cummins rattled Kusal Perera's stumps. In the very next over, Kusal Mendis (9) fell while trying to take on Zampa on the leg-side. David Warner came running in once more and held on to a brilliant take.
Centurion against Pakistan, Sadeera Samarawickrama (8) was trapped lbw by Zampa in the 30th over. Chamika Karunaratne and Maheesh Theekshana were leg-spinner's other victims
Mitchell Starc managed to extract movement with the swinging ball early on in the Sri Lanka innings. He hit the pads of Pathum Nissanka off the very first ball, and Australia went up for a review after being turned down. However, they lost the review after it turned out that there was an inside edge.
The Sri Lanka openers came up with a number of quality drives and cuts over the next few overs to get the innings going.
Nissanka and Kusal Perera carried their attacking game into the next Powerplay, taking 33 runs between overs 11-15. They then attacked Zampa and took 16 off his first two overs. Perera brought up his half-century in the 19th over, while Nissanka followed with one of his own in the 20th over.
Australia finally had a breakthrough in the 21st over when Nissanka (61) pulled a Pat Cummins delivery in the deep and ended up placing it towards the mid-wicket region. David Warner ran to his left before holding on to a stunning catch. However, Perera kept Sri Lanka's attack up and hit four fours in the next three overs.
For Sri Lanka, this was their third defeat in as many matches
SriLanka;209 all out in 43.3 overs (Kusal Perera 78, Pathum Nissanka 61, Zampa 4 /, Mitchell Starc 2/43 and Pat Cummins 2/32)
Australia 215 for 5 in 35.2 overs ( Marsh 52, Labuschagne 40, Josh Inglis 58, Maxwell not out 31, Dilshan Madushanka 3 for 38)