Australia once again had an Asian team huffing and puffing and threatening to chase down a big total and win, only to capitulate and hit the self-destruct button, as they defeated Sri Lanka by 87 runs to top the group stage table at the Oval on Saturday.
Winning the toss, the Lankans decided to have a bowl, but that soon seemed to be the wrong option as the Aussies once again made a solid start with captain Aaron Finch and David Warner putting up an 80 run stand before Warner was dismissed for 26.
Usman Khwaja, who has been shuffled in every match in the middle order came on next and was dismissed cheaply for 10 as the part-time off-spin of Dhananjaya de Silva worked to take both wickets.
Steve Smith came in and formed a game-changing 173-run partnership with Finch to take the score to 273 and with 7.2 overs to spare. In the partnership, Finch equalled his career-best score of 153 before being dismissed by Isuru Udana. The innings had 15 fours and five sixes.
But from there on, Australia once again lost quick wickets in the death overs and eventually finished with 334/7. Udana was the pick of the bowlers taking 2/57 in his ten overs while aslo affecting two run-outs.
In reply, much like in their last game against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka got off to an excellent start posting 115 for their first wicket in 15.3 overs.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera played the pace duo of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc excellently before Starc finally dismissed Kusal (52) in his second spell.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Karunaratne then took the score to 152 before Thirimanne was dismissed for 16. Karunaratne was on the verge of a well-made century, but much like the team he leads, he too fell short after showing glimpses of hope, for 97.
From 186/3, Sri Lanka once again capitulated to 247 all-out in 45.5 overs as Starc took four, Kane Richardson took three, and Cummins took two wickets. What must be frustrating for Sri Lankan cricket fans and those involved is the way some of the senior batsmen like Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera were out to poor shots and soft dismissals.
The win takes defending champions Australia to the top of the table with eight points from five matches, a point above their trans-tasman neighbors New Zealand, who are second. Both teams look well placed to make the semis.
Sri Lanka keep their fifth spot with four points from five games though that could change if Pakistan, West Indies or Bangladesh win their next match.
Aaron Finch becomes the leading run scorer in the World Cup overtaking England’s Joe Root on his way to his 153 with 343 runs. His opening partner David Warner also overtook Root in this match and Warner now has 281 runs.
Like the Aussie openers, the opening bowlers Starc with 13 wickets and Cummins with 11 wickets from five matches overtake Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir who has 10 wickets, though he has played one game less.