by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Australia comfortably chased down Sri Lanka’s modest score of 209, securing a five-wicket victory in Lucknow to rejuvenate their World Cup campaign. This defeat puts Sri Lanka in a precarious position, ranking second-last with three consecutive losses, meaning they must secure wins in their upcoming matches for any hope of reaching the semi-finals.
Australia’s triumph was primarily due to their relentless bowling performance, coupled with a confident batting chase.
Although Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain, Kusal Mendis, had predicted the pitch to yield a score between “280-300”, his team began promisingly with the openers contributing 125 runs. However, what followed was a staggering collapse, as they lost ten wickets for a mere 84 runs. This is the most drastic collapse in World Cup matches since 2011 and Sri Lanka’s worst since their debut World Cup game.
Adam Zampa led the bowling attack with impressive figures of 4 for 47, with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc each clinching two wickets. David Warner also stood out, pulling off two crucial catches to send Pathum Nissanka and Mendis back to the pavilion, catalyzing Sri Lanka’s downward spiral. This fielding prowess by Australia was refreshing, especially after their initial losses to India and South Africa were marred by several dropped catches.
While defending their total, Sri Lanka showed promise initially, especially through Dilshan Madushanka, who delivered 12 dot balls, including a double-wicket maiden over, dismissing heavyweights Warner and Steven Smith. However, Mitchell Marsh’s aggressive stance neutralized this early advantage.
Marsh’s onslaught began with a commanding shot off Lahiru Kumara and continued as he dominated the bowlers, including Maheesh Theekshana and Kumara, hitting boundary after boundary. Dunith Wellalage was particularly hard hit, conceding three boundaries in his debut over.
Marsh’s departure, courtesy of a sharp throw by Chamika Karunaratne, saw Australia already well into their chase. Josh Inglis and Marnus Labuschagne then consolidated the innings with a 77-run partnership. Inglis achieved a half-century, but both batsmen departed before sealing the win.
The responsibility of wrapping up the game fell to Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, who accelerated the chase, ensuring an easy Australian victory.