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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Sri Lanka put Australia out of T20 World Cup

Sri Lanka put Australia out of T20 World Cup

Last updated on: June 09, 2009 02:18 IST

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Australia's hopes of capturing the only title that has evaded their grasp vanished when they were eliminated in the first round of the ICC World Twenty20.

World champions in ODIs and the top-ranked team in Tests, Australia showed they still have a lot to learn in Twenty20 cricket after losing to Sri Lanka by six wickets and an over to spare, at Trent Bridge, in Nottingham, on Monday.

This was the Aussies' second defeat in as many matches in the tournament, having lost to the West Indies by seven wickets in their first outing.

Tillakaratne Dilshan set Sri Lanka on the victory path with a blazing knock of 53 from just 32 deliveries at the top of the order. Captain Kumar Sangakkara, with an unbeaten 55 from 42 deliveries, then showed great composure in the closing stages to guide his team home and into the Super Eights of the tournament.

Jehan Mubarak hit 21 from 12 deliveries as Sri Lanka scored 160 for four in 19 overs, in reply to Australia's 159 for nine in 20.

Earlier, Ajantha Mendis crippled the famed Australian batting line-up with a haul of three for 20 in four overs and left Ricky Ponting's men facing the ignominy a humiliating first round exit. Lasith Malinga also chipped in with vital wickets at the end to finish with three for 36 in his four overs.

Australia:

Sri Lanka just about managed to reach the stadium as Tamils, protesting against the Sri Lankan government's "human right abuses" attempted to block their way. The protestors called for the British government to ban the Lankan cricket team for crimes against Tamils during the recent offensive against the LTTE.

But it was a smooth passage for the Lankans inside the ground, as Kumar Sangakkara won the toss in his debut game as Sri Lanka captain and elected to field.

It took them just four deliveries to strike -- pacer Angelo Mathews claiming the wicket of David Warner, caught at point for a duck.

Debutant Isuru Udana got off to a rough start in international cricket as Shane Watson clubbed him for two boundaries and a six in his first over.

Lasith Malinga was despatched by Ricky Ponting for three straight boundaries off the first three deliveries he bowled as Australia raced for 47 for one after five overs.

Ajantha Mendis nearly struck with his first delivery when he beat Watson with a quicker one that struck him in line, but the umpire ruled him not out.

However, Mendis was not to be denied five deliveries later when he bowled Ponting in the sixth over. The batsman had scored a quick 25.

The Sri Lanka leggie then pegged Australia further when he trapped Watson leg before wicket for 22.

With three wickets already in their bag, Sri Lanka tried to restrict Australia with some quick bowling as the boundaries dried off. The pressure paid when Brad Haddin (16 off 17 deliveries) gave himself room but was foxed by a slower delivery from Malinga. Australia had slipped to 74 for four after 11 overs.

Udana came up with a spectacular return catch off his bowling to send back Michael Clarke, who scored a subdued 11 from 15 deliveries, leaving leave Australia reeling at 79 for five in the 13th over.

With wickets falling regularly, the flow of runs also dried up, especially against the spin duo of Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan. David Hussey tried to break the shackles when he danced down the wicket and lofted Mendis for a huge six straight down the ground.

Mendis, though, had something to smile two balls later when he scalped Michael Hussey for 1. The left-hander shuffled across the stumps but was beaten by a quicker delivery and trapped right in front.

The two spinners -- Muralitharan (3-0-8-0) and Mendis (3-0-11-3) -- had spun a web around the Aussie batsmen, bowling six overs between themselves for just 19 runs, with three wickets to boast of.

Mitchell Johnson counter-attacked right from the start and ruined Muralitharan's figures by smashing for two sixes and a boundary in his final over. Johnson raced to 19 from 5 deliveries as 21 runs came from Muralitharan's final over as Australia reached 115 for six after 16 overs.

David Hussey clubbed a length delivery from Udana over midwicket for a six but fell of the next delivery attempting a similar shot. Hussey scored 28 from 22 deliveries, with a four and two sixes, before ending up spooning a simple catch to the point fielder in the 19th over.

But Udana continued to suffer as Brett Lee came out and hammered for a boundary and six off consecutive deliveries.

Lee made a quick 15 from five deliveries before he was bowled by an unplayable yorker from Malinga in the final over of the innings. In the same over, Nathan Hauritz fell caught behind for four before Australia finished on 159 for nine in their 20 overs.

Australia could well be ruing not making another 15-20 runs since they scored 169 for seven in their first match against West Indies, but went down by seven wickets.

Even Sri Lanka boasts of great firepower in their batting and if the explosive Sanath Jayasuriya gets going Australia could well start packing their bags.

Sri Lanka:

Tillakaratne Dilshan, who enjoyed a great run in the IPL with the bat, started with a cracking boundary off Brett Lee in the first over of the innings. He then smashed a couple more off Johnson's next over, one pulled through midwicket while the second one was driven handsomely through the covers.

Sanath Jayasuriya, however, struggled to make an impression and fell for 2 off seven deliveries. He pulled a short delivery from Lee in the third over, but David Warner came up with a brilliant catch, jumping high and completing the catch behind him just inches inside the boundary line.

Kumar Sangakkara made sure Australia did not capitalize from that opening wicket as he unleashed consecutive boundaries in that same over off Lee.

Ponting felt the heat as the pacers went for plenty of boundaries early on. Nathan Bracken was also hit for a boundary each by the two batsmen as Sri Lanka reached 37 for one after four overs.

The Lankans were in no mood to relent. Dilshan hammered Watson for four boundaries in his first over. He welcomed Watson to the bowling crease with a lofted boundary over midwicket. Two balls later he played a fine paddle sweep against the medium pacer for the same result and followed it up with two more boundaries over the point region.

Sri Lanka raced to a comfortable 53 for one after five overs -- 44 of those runs coming through boundaries.

There was no stopping the two batsmen as they added 50 runs for the second wicket in 32 deliveries, having hit nine boundaries between them.

Dilshan brought up his own half-century in amazing fashion when he scooped a good length delivery from Watson over the wicketkeeper for a boundary. It took him just 26 deliveries to reach the landmark and included 10 boundaries. He merely repeated what Chris Gayle did to the Aussie bowlers a few days back.

Australia then got a wicket out of nowhere when part-timer Michael Clarke bowled Dilshan with his first delivery of the match. Dilshan, who made 53 from 32 deliveries, inclusive of 10 boundaries, came down the wicket but was beaten by the flight and bowled.

Slowly but steadily Australia were trying to make a comeback through their spinner, who gave away just 14 runs in his first three overs while picking a wicket.

The pressure tactics seemed to pay off when Mahela Jayawardene gave his wicket away trying to hit Nathan Hauritz. He charged down the wicket to Hauritz to loft him over the cover region but ended up slicing it to Bracken at point to fall for 9 from 12 deliveries.

Sri Lanka reached 98 for three after 13 overs as the required run rate kept creeping with 62 more runs needed from the last seven overs.

Hauritz was proving to be difficult to score off as he gave away just 11 runs in his first three overs. But with the run rate on the rise, Sangakkara decided to take on the off-spinner in his final over and smashed consecutive sixes to take Sri Lanka to 122 for three in 15 overs.

Lee kept Australia in the hunt when he claimed the wicket of Chamara Silva for 11 in the 17th over. He followed it up with three dot deliveries to pile on the pressure on newcomer Jehan Mubarak, who made up for it with a six over midwicket to make it 24 needed from the last three overs.

Bracken kept it tight in the 18th over before Sangakkara restored parity with a boundary through fine leg. That also brought up his half-century off just 40 deliveries, inclusive four boundaries and two sixes, leaving Sri Lanka an easy task of chasing 14 from the last two overs.

Mubarak ensured there was no late drama by slamming Lee for a huge six over midwicket in the 19th over and following it up with a boundary over mid-off.

It was a wide that ended it all as Sri Lanka reached 160 for four in 19 overs and won the match by six wickets with a full over to spare.

Sangakkara was quite pumped at the end, having finished unbeaten on a fine knock of 55 from 42 deliveries, that included four boundaries and two sixes.

Mubarak also made a good contribution, scoring 21 from 12 deliveries, with a boundary and two sixes, as the two batsmen added 33 runs for the fifth wicket in just 2.5 overs.

The victory ensured Australia were knocked out of the tournament, while Sri Lanka and West Indies advanced to the Super Eights.

Harish Kotian in Nottingham