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Finch, Starc star in Australia's table-topping win


Mitchell Starc's four-fer derailed Sri Lanka's chase

It started with plenty of promises and even had glimpses of Sri Lanka of the old. A fiery start was led by Kusal Perera's 52, akin to what a certain left-hander used to do a couple of decades back, while Dimuth Karunaratne's adaptability to different situations was reminiscent of the Sangakkara-Jayawardene times. But, unfortunately for Sri Lanka, that was the only thing that turned out well in the run chase of 335 after Aaron Finch's 153, coupled with strong contributions from Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell, had powered Australia to an imposing total. With the end of Sri Lanka's opening players worth 115 runs, a collapse ensued as Mitchell Starc ripped through the middle order to bag a four-wicket haul and deliver a comprehensive 87-run win that propelled Australia to the top of the table.

At the start of the second innings it was as if Sanath Jayasuriya had strapped the pads back on and walked out to open. The ferocious pulls and cuts, going over the cover region with a sliced bat for a six or the tickle behind the stumps, there were several traits of the swashbuckling Sri Lankan opener - bringing back fond/haunting memories depending on which camp you are supporting - as Kusal Perera decided to counter Australia's speed with his own force. At the end of 10nth over, Sri Lanka had raced away to 87, with Kusal Perera having belted five fours and a six, and such was his sizzling display with the bat that Karunaratne's edgy yet aggressive start was overshadowed. Not that the captain would mind, as it was the ideal platform that the team would have hoped for in pursuit of a daunting target. And it was Karunaratne who outscored his partner and was first to the fifty-run mark, getting there in 44 deliveries.

Meanwhile, Australia did themselves no favour as they wasted a review for a caught-behind appeal, and it came back to bite them when Maxwell had trapped Kusal Perera in front a few overs later only to be denied by the onfield umpire. A 50 followed for Kusal Perera, who got there off only 33 balls, but his party, and the profitable opening partnership, was ended by a full delivery from Starc. As expected, the frequency of boundaries reduced after the dismissal and in an attempt to force the pace, Lahiru Thirimanne became Jason Behrendorff's first World Cup wicket which sundered a promising partnership.


Sri Lanka managed some damage control in the death as Finch fell in his attempt to clear the boundary off Isuru Udana while Malinga landed the yorker on the mark to clean up Smith, exacting personal revenge having earlier been smashed for a six by the No. 4 batsman. Malinga and Udana also sneaked in four tight overs, denying boundaries and conceding only 22 runs from overs 46-49, with the latter also picking up a wicket and effecting two run outs. But the earlier damage by Maxwell, when he had managed 22 off an over which left Nuwan Pradeep with figures of 0 for 88 - the most expensive in this World Cup - and Thisara Perera's 10-run final over, helped Australia finish with more than 300 which in the end proved to be plentiful.