Aaron Finch blasted a national World Cup record 153 to send Australia top of the World Cup standings with an 87-run victory over Sri Lanka at The Oval.
Finch equalled his career-best ODI innings in a one-sided result, the skipper eclipsing Ricky Ponting’s unbeaten 140 from the 2003 final as Australia’s top World Cup innings.
Australia’s big hitting sealed a fourth win in five matches, with former skipper Steve Smith notching 73 and Glenn Maxwell a quickfire 46 in a final tally of 334-7.
Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera raced to a 115-run opening stand, but once Australia broke that partnership, Sri Lanka never looked capable of producing the required record World Cup chase.
Sri Lanka wound up 247 all out, the size of the chase forcing a clutch of mistakes.
Australia’s commanding victory offered a statement of intent for their World Cup intentions and a warning to their rivals, notably England.
The grudge match against the hosts and pre-tournament favourites is slated for Lord’s on June 25, and both sides appear to be moving towards top form.
Finch’s superlative captain’s knock comfortably won the day for an Australia side whose bowling improved as their time in the field wore on.
David Warner looked out of touch and scrapping for form in a patchy 26 from 48 balls at the top of the innings, and Usman Khawaja failed with just 10.
But all that proved immaterial with Finch in sparkling form, ably supported by first Smith and then Maxwell.
Karunaratne and Perera blasted out of the blocks to the extent that just for a fleeting 10 overs Sri Lanka started to concoct ideas of pulling off this monster chase.
Starc had other ideas though, clean bowling Perera with a fine delivery, on which turned Sri Lanka’s entire innings.
The seamer’s eventual haul of four wickets for 55 runs belied a sticky start, underlining Australia’s trademark tenacity to turn events in their favour, often through little more than sheer will.
Karunaratne succumbed three shy of a maiden ODI century to boot, as hope proved a typically cruel mistress.
If Perera’s dismissal was down to Starc’s poise, Karunaratne’s revolved around a loose shot. No one who followed either opener could generate anywhere near the same power, panache and pace of scoring.
And so Sri Lanka’s innings, and the match, petered out to the inevitable Australia win.
Australia roll on to face Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Thursday, buoyed hugely by this result and certainly Finch’s front-foot leadership. Sri Lanka limp towards a Headingley encounter with England, where without significantly beefed-up middle order batting they can expect similar treatment.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Virat Kohli said India’s mindset “remains the same” for the World Cup match against great rivals Pakistan at Old Trafford on Sunday.
So far in the tournament, India have beaten South Africa and Australia, with their match against New Zealand abandoned without a ball being bowled.
In contrast, Pakistan have beaten home favourites England, but lost to West Indies and Australia, with their match against Sri Lanka also called off with no play because of the rain.
When asked about his most tense moment during and India-Pakistan match, Kohli revealed:” “Tense was Champions Trophy 2009, where Yuvi fractured a finger, and I was literally flown in and in two days time I was playing against Pakistan at Centurion. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before, and I played a very bad shot, and I couldn’t sleep until 6:00 in the morning. I was looking at the ceiling and thinking, that’s it, I’ve flown in, and now I’m finished.”
India skipper Virat Kohli has reiterated the need for his men to be ‘absolutely professional’ as they get ready to lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in a 2019 ICC World Cup clash at Manchester on Sunday.
Emotions are set to run high at Old Trafford with the two sides coming into the clash in the backdrop of a worsening political climate between the subcontinent neighbours. Tensions continue to run high since the suicide-bombing attack on an Indian army convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir at the start of the year which claimed 40 lives.
Since then, relations between the two countries have been on a downward spiral with several fans even calling for a boycott of the World Cup clash before the start of the tournament.
“I think the best way to approach something like this, if one focuses too much on what’s going on the outside, it’s to understand that the game starts tomorrow at a certain time and it finishes at a certain time,” Kohli said on the eve of the much-awaited clash.
“So it’s not going to last a lifetime for you, whether you do well or you don’t.
“From the fans’ point of view, looking at the atmosphere and frenzy around the game, I wouldn’t say it’s easy to think like a player. For the players, it’s very, very crucial to be absolutely professional.”
The momentum is very much with India for Sunday’s clash with the Men in Blue arriving in Manchester on the back of two wins and one no-result. Pakistan, on the other hand, are in desperate need of a win with just one victory to show for from their four games so far.
While India have prevailed in all six previous World Cup meetings with Pakistan, they will be wary of their 2017 Champions Trophy final defeat against the same opponents in England itself. Then, a superb century from Fakhar Zaman and a terrific opening spell from Mohammed Amir had sealed a thumping 180-run win for the Men in Green.
Kohli, however, is treating the game like any other and refused to pinpoint a particular threat from the Pakistan side.
“We’re not focusing on the opposition, so for us no one’s a threat. For us, no one player matters more than the other,” Kohli stated.
“It’s about going into the park as the Indian cricket team and taking on whichever team is in front of us. If we play well, we can beat any side in the world.”
India have some tinkering to do in their playing XI for Sunday’s clash with opener Shikhar Dhawan sidelined with a fractured thumb. With KL Rahul set to move to an opening role, Kohli needs to make a call between Vijay Shankar and Dinesh Karthik for the No4 slot.
However, with the threat of rain looming large on Sunday, Kohli is keeping his options open for now.
“We can’t be rigid in our approach because, if the conditions are very different from what we played in the last game, then we’ll have to think of different combinations, ” he said.
“If the length of the game is going to be full and we expect the game to be 50 overs both sides, then we’ll probably think of another combination, but we’ll have to be flexible.”