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Srilanka vs Australia: Sri Lanka Knock Australia Out Of Tournament

By on June 9, 2009

icc world twenty20 Kumar Sangakkara

Sri Lanka 160 for 4 (Sangakkara 55*, Dilshan 53) beat Australia 159 for 9 (Johnson 28*, Mendis 3-20, Malinga 3-36) by six wickets…

Bye-bye Australia. The top ranked team in Test cricket, long-reigning 50-over World Cup kings and winners of the last Champions Trophy simply cannot crack the 20-over stuff. Needing to beat Sri Lanka in Nottingham on Monday to stay in the World Twenty20, Ricky Ponting’s team followed up their walloping by West Indies with a six-wicket defeat at Trent Bridge.

Australia scrapped hard before going down with six balls to spare, but they have now lost five consecutive T20 internationals – an unpleasant statistic to ponder as they kick their heels in England for a couple of weeks before starting their Ashes tour with a warm-up match against Sussex.

Maybe it was losing dynamic batsman Andrew Symonds, for yet another breach of team rules, shortly before the tournament began that upset the Aussies. Or perhaps they are just not very good at the shortest form of the game. A couple of years ago, in South Africa, Ponting’s men managed to reach the semi-finals of the first World Twenty20 but this time first West Indies and now Sri Lanka have beaten them decisively.

What it does mean, of course, is that this competition is not following its predicted path – or anything like it. Australia and Bangladesh were both seeded to go through to the Super Eights but are already out of the tournament. And, barring something extra-special at Lord’s on Tuesday night, Pakistan will be plonked alongside them on the discard pile with Netherlands joining Ireland in the second round.

Australia’s biggest problem in Twenty20 is a lack of variation among their bowlers. Their pacemen seem unable to produce either the searing yorkers or well disguised slower balls perfected by the likes of Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga. But it is the retirement from international cricket of leg-spinner Shane Warne which has hurt them most of all.

Warne has shown for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League that he can still be a real force. There is no-one to take his place, though, in the national side and Ponting could only look on with envy in Nottingham as Muttiah Muralitharan and the world’s newest magical mystery spinner, Ajantha Mendis, turned the match in Sri Lanka’s favour.

The Aussies simply could not read Mendis’s baffling mixture of leg-breaks, googlies and off breaks. He dismissed Ponting, Shane Watson and Mike Hussey while conceding only 20 runs from four overs. Murali went for 29, but 21 of those came from his last six balls.

In the end, Australia did well to total 159 for nine. But with Tillekeratne Dilshan launching Sri Lanka’s reply with 53 from 32 balls and then Kumar Sangakkara steadying the ship after a mid-innings wobble by making an unbeaten 55 from 42 deliveries, Sri Lanka eased into the Super Eights.

“We made too many mistakes in both games,” said Ponting. “We were just a little bit off in both games, and when you’re off at this level the opposition make you pay for it. I can’t really put my finger on it. We were extremely focused going into this tournament and I could not have been happier with the intensity of our training. But when we needed to execute something really well in the two matches we didn’t do it.”

Source: BCCI

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