DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A robust stand between openers David Warner and captain Aaron Finch propelled Australia to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup on Thursday.
Warner smashed 64 off 42 balls and Finch hit 37 off 23 deliveries as Australia romped to 155-3 in 17 overs for its second successive win in Group 1. Australia, which defeated South Africa in the first game, joined England at the top of the group.
For Sri Lanka it was a first defeat in five games after it qualified for the Super 12s on the back of three successive wins in the qualifiers and also beat Bangladesh in its opening Group 1 game.
Both Australian openers hammered boundaries at will against spinners and fast bowlers in an explosive start of 70 off 41 balls, with Lahiru Kumara getting smashed for three boundaries and a six in one over before eventually finishing with expensive figures of 0-48 off just three overs.
Legspinner Adam Zampa (2-14) and Mitchel Starc (2-34) earlier pulled back Sri Lanka in the middle overs before restricting them to 154-6 after Finch won the toss and opted to field first.
“I find (Sri Lanka) really challenging, very good players of spin so I’m glad to have the night I did,” Zampa said. “I think it (the wicket) was quite slow in the first innings and spun a bit more than it did in the second innings.”
Sri Lanka should have got Warner dismissed for 18 within the batting powerplay, but wicketkeeper Kusal Perera dropped a regulation catch behind the wickets down the leg side off a mistimed pull from the lefthanded opener.
Offspinner Maheesh Theekshana also couldn’t make an impact as Warner welcomed the spinner with a reverse swept four. Legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga (2-22) was the best bowler on show for Sri Lanka as Finch dragged him back onto the stumps while Glenn Maxwell (5) couldn’t clear the boundary at mid-wicket in the legspinner’s next over and was caught close to the boundary edge.
Warner, who hit 10 powerful boundaries in his explosive knock, finally got caught at wide long off in the 15th overs before Steve Smith (28 not out) and Marcus Stoinis (16) carried Australia to a dominating win.
Earlier, Perera and Charith Asalanka both scored 35 runs each but fell in successive overs as Australia came back strongly through the spin of Zampa and sharp bowling by Starc. The leftarmer Starc clean bowled Perera off a sharp yorker after being hammered for a four by the lefthander one ball earlier. Asalanka, who made an unbeaten 80 against Bangladesh in the last game, was caught in the deep off a flat sweep against Zampa.
The loss of two set batsmen cost Sri Lanka before Bhanuka Rajapaksa made an unbeaten 33 off 26 balls to give Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope in the end.
“We could have done a little (better) in the middle period,” conceded Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said. “The set batsman needs to take us home. I felt slightly we were 25-30 runs short on that wicket.”
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports