Sri Lanka feels the pinch from Finch | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka feels the pinch from Finch

Dimuth Karunaratne drives a ball during his innings of 97 against Australia in Sri Lanka’s World Cup match at the London Oval yesterday  Pic: Kamal Jayamanne
Dimuth Karunaratne drives a ball during his innings of 97 against Australia in Sri Lanka’s World Cup match at the London Oval yesterday Pic: Kamal Jayamanne

LONDON, Saturday: Captain Aaron Finch hit a brilliant century and equalled his career best ODI score of 153 as defending champions Australia moved inexorably towards a semi-final place in the 2019 World Cup with a thumping 87 runs win over a hapless Sri Lanka at the Oval here on Saturday.

Invited to bat first Australia riding on Finch’s massive contribution reached 334-7 and Sri Lanka after a promising start at 153-1 in the 24th over simply crumbled without a fight as they lost their remaining nine wickets for 94 runs to be dismissed for 247 off 45.5 overs.

An opening partnership of 115 off 94 balls had the crowd on their feet with the anticipation that Sri Lanka would give Australia a good run for their money. But once Kusal Perera was dismissed for an aggressive 52 off 36 balls the Australians tightened their grip on the game and despite a gallant captain’s innings of 97 off 108 balls from Dimuth Karunaratne the rest of the batting simply fell away as Mitchell Starc, Australia’s star bowler struck deeply into the Lankan batting line up to finish with figures of four for 55.

Once again it was the brittle Lankan middle order that faltered after such a brilliant start. Man of the Match Finch and a passive David Warner gave Australia a cautious start against the new ball on a new pitch putting on 80 off 102 balls before Dhananjaya de Silva broke through by having Warner bowled for 26 and then sending back Usman Khawaja for 10 caught at deep mid-wicket on the sweep shot.

But Steve Smith who joined his captain put the Lankan bowling to the sword with a massive 173-run stand off 124 balls that provided the backbone to the Aussies innings. Finch in his chance-less innings hit 15 fours and five sixes off 132 balls as he equalled his previous highest score of 153 not out against Pakistan at Sharjah early this year.

The nearest Sri Lanka came to dismissing him was when he survived an lbw appeal at 36 off Thisara Perera which Sri Lanka reviewed.

Otherwise he was dominant as ever bringing up his 14th ODI century, second in the World Cup and first against Sri Lanka with his fourth six of his innings off Milinda Siriwardana over long off in 97 balls. It was a classy display of batting which one had to admire.

Thanks to the Finch-Smith stand Australia scored 184 runs in the second power play. This was where Sri Lanka’s problem lay as the bowlers could not find a way to break through and thus put pressure back on the opposition. A stark contrast was during Sri Lanka’s innings Australia grabbed eight wickets in the second power play while 149 runs were scored.

Smith scored 73 off 59 balls and despite Sri Lanka grabbing some cheap wickets towards the end overs Glenn Maxwell provided the final spark to their innings with a belligerent 46 not out off 25 balls. 

Aaron Finch