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
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