2015 World Cup update #15: Australia a little too good for Sri Lanka


Yesterday’s game between Australia and Sri Lanka was another high scoring one with Australia batting first and scoring 376/9 off their 50 overs, not the highest in the tournament but a very formidable one nonetheless. Given that teams batting second have chased down scores of 300 several times already, the bar for the team batting first has been raised to around 350 and Australia met it comfortably the standard way, scoring around 150 in the first 30 overs without losing more than a couple of wickets, and then piling on for the last 20 overs. Steven Smith and captain Michael Clarke did the first part and Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson were the architects of the second part, with Maxwell being ruthless and scoring the second fastest century in World Cup history off just 51 balls.

Sri Lanka, to their credit, were not fazed by the challenge and made a spirited effort to chase down this total but it was just too much and they were all out for 312 off 46.2 overs, despite Kumar Sangakkara scoring another elegant century, his third consecutive one in the tournament, something no one has done before. The final score does not really reflect the closeness of the game.

Australia once again showed that their batting has strength and depth and that their debacle against New Zealand may have been an aberration, though the New Zealand bowling attack and fielding have to be given a lot of credit since, in my opinion, they are the best in those two areas. Australia should be concerned that their normally fearsome pace attack did not seem to pose much terror for the Sri Lankan top batsmen, with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sangakkara scoring at will, with Mitchell Johnson being hit by Dilshan for six consecutive boundaries in one over.

Sri Lanka can take comfort that their batting has definitely firmed up and the brittleness that they displayed early in the tournament seems to have disappeared, to be replaced with determination. In fact in this game they were actually exceeding the Australian run rate up until the 42nd over. The departure of Dinesh Chandimal who had to leave the field because he was injured in the 42nd over when he was batting well and the score was 281 was a serious blow to their efforts. What also did Sri Lanka in was the inability of their bowlers to contain the Australian batsmen during the last eight overs when they scored a phenomenal 96 runs. They still do not seem to have settled on a good bowling lineup.

As someone who values sportsmanship, a small vignette about Maxwell’s innings is worth noting.

The most instructive moment of Maxwell’s innings was perhaps near the end. He was on 99 off 49. Still with a chance to trickle one around the corner and register the joint-fastest World Cup hundred. Also with the knowledge that he had missed out on that elusive hundred at least four times in the past. He looked to nudge Lasith Malinga, missed a slower ball, ran what he thought was a leg-bye, but saw umpire Ian Gould in no hurry to raise his leg. Greater batsmen with many more centuries to their name than Maxwell have snuck in a single at such moments, but Maxwell seemed to instruct to Gould he hadn’t hit it. The leg-bye was finally signalled.

Obviously it has been frustrating for Maxwell to have not scored that hundred, but he wasn’t going to bring up his first in an underhand manner.

That is the kind of thing I like to see and I doff my hat to Maxwell and say “Well played, sir!”

Comments

  1. Mano Singham says

    I would not say they got screwed. It was a good game and Australia simply played better.

  2. sundoga says

    I agree. Sri Lanka played magnificently; there’s no dishonor in a loss when you’ve played that level of game.

  3. Brian E says

    The pitches in this World Cup, have almost invariably been roads. Mitchell Johnson is fast, but he doesn’t swing it much at the moment, and the bounce off the pitches is reliable. So, a batsman can hit Johnson safely and use the pace of his ball. He got better later on when he threw in a few slower balls. Which is not to take away from the Sri Lankan batsmen, who are greats and have pummeled many good bowlers.
    Mitchell Stark is doing very well, he almost single handedly won the game against NZ, because he is getting late swing and is a tall lefty. Batsmen haven’t been able to get a hold of him. Faulkner also did well against Sri Lanker, his balls don’t come onto the bat and he varies the pace well, so the batsman has to do more to get the ball away, and this slows down the scoring and creates pressure and creates wicket opportunities.
    Australia’s real bowling issue is spin, Doherty was not able to get wickets nor contain batsmen. Why Nathan Lyon wasn’t included in the squad is beyond me.
    Sri Lanka too were short a bowler, I think Herath was injured. The best way to stop leaking runs is to take wickets.

    A great game, both sides have decent batting lineups, and both are a bit short bowling, it may not matter, or may cost the World Cup…
    Go Ireland!

  4. Mano Singham says

    There seems to a dearth of good spin bowlers in general in all the teams. Daniel Vettori is one of the few.

  5. fentex says

    This is what makes me worry about NZ’s chances. If Sri Lanka had beating Australia I think NZ and Oz might have met in a quarter or semi-final on a NZ track – thus giving us our best chance at getting past Australia.

    But now if NZ makes the final it’ll probably be against Australia. And on their home ground odds are they’ll post a much better score – and our batters will be severely tested in matching it.

  6. Brian E says

    Australia were off to a flyer against NZ until Vetorri worked his dark arts, I think both Finch and Warner were looking at quick centuries. A good spinner invaluable. Sri Lankas spinners took wickets yesterday, so not terrible. Of course, they could change the playing conditions and Australia could ball Stark from one end for 25 overs and Faulkner from the other for 25, simple!

  7. StevoR says

    @ 4. Brian E : “Sri Lanka too were short a bowler, I think Herath was injured. “

    Yes, that’s right. See :

    Herath is expected to miss Sri Lanka’s game against Australia on 8 March after having stitches in a hand injury.
    “He needs five or six days to heal,” said batsman Mahela Jayawardene.
    “The stitches will come off then we’ll see how he progresses.”
    Herath split the webbing in his fingers attempting a caught and bowled during his side’s nine-wicket win over England on Sunday.

    Source : http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/cricket/31761561 (Among other places.)

    Actually Sri Lanka were short a couple of players also missing injured batsman Dimuth Karunaratne due to a broken finger.

    Still that was certainly a great game and one where both sides can feel proud of their efforts and performances.

  8. atheistblog says

    Looking at the way NZ, Ind, Aus playing, I don’t have much hope for SL to win the cup, never know, but I can say for sure SL is not having the same force they had in 1996.

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