Australia smashes Sri Lanka

Having won the toss and decided to bowl, the Aussies cruised past Sri lanka’s woefully inadequate 101 all-out without losing a wicket in only 10.2 overs.

Without injured captain Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist took over the reins and Shane Watson was brought into the side to provide another fifth bowler option, an area where Australia have struggled this tournament. Unfortunately, Watson suffered another injury, but more of that anon.

Batting first on a slowish wicket, Sri Lanka were soon in strife, with key player Sanath Jayasuriya falling lbw to Brett Lee for nought in the first over of the match. Things only got worse for Sri Lanka, who were soon 21 for 4 then not long after 43 for 7. From that point, the match realy degenerated into yet another example of the inevitability which often takes over shortened versions of the game once one team sets a poor first innings total. Only Kumar Sangakkara with 22 from 23 balls faced, Jehan Mubarak (28 from 26) and Chaminda Vaas (21 from 28) offered any semblance of resistance as Austrlaia’s fast bowlers dominated from the get-go and the batsmen struggled for any rhythm in a format which necessitates continued fast-scoring even when the match is going against you.

The pick of the Australian bowlers was undeniably Stuart Clark, who finished with the immaculate figures of 4 for 20 from his four overs. He was ably supported by Nathan Bracken (2 for 14) and Brett Lee (2 for 27), each of whose ability to take top order wickets has been a feature of Austrlaia’s tilt at the title. All of the bowlers were superbly assisted by their fielders, who caught and threw with alacrity throughout the Sri Lankan innings. Michael Clarke’s catch at backward point to dismiss Maharoof from S Clark was brilliant, whilst Lee’s running effort to remove Vaas from the bowling of Andrew Symonds was, if less spectacular, then no less skillful.

With their opponents having been dismissed for so paltry a total, Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden set about the formalities at a healthy clip, polishing the runs off in only 10.2 overs. Once again, Hayden easily out-scored Gilchrist and helped himself to 58 from only 38 balls faced, including a towering six to finish the game. For his part Gilchrist finished with a comparatively somnambulent 31 from 25. The best of Sri lanka’s bowlers (who in fairness faced a nigh on impossible task defending such a terrible target) was Dilhara Fernando who did his best to hold back the unstoppable tide with figures of none for 12 from three tidy overs.

So Australia march on to a likely semi-final clash with hosts South Africa in Durban (pending results). Unfortunately, despite compiling a record T20 score earlier in the competition, Sri Lanka now head home to prepare for a series against England. The only down side for Australia was yet another injury to all rounder Watson. Such are his woes that the Commonwealth Government will surely re-name the Tasmanian hospital it recently took over in his honour. His status as a budding Test all rounder must now seriously be questioned, not through lack of ability but through the sheer riskiness of playing so injury-plagued a player in the five day game. As Gideon Haigh noted in his book on the most recent Ashes series, Watson seems to have sadly donated his body to science – whilst still alive.

In summary, a disappointingly one-sided game for such an important contest. In honesty, Question Time in parliament today had far more cut and thrust. Despite all the hype of this competition and its popularity in bringing cricket to a new audience, the Twenty20 format frankly lacks the intrigue and twists-in-the-tail which only Test cricket can consistently provide.

Sri Lanka 101 (19.2 overs)
Jehan Mubarak 28, Kumar Sangakkara 22, Chaminda Vaas 21
Stuart Clark 4-20, Nathan Bracken 2-14, Brett Lee 2-27

Australia 102-0 (10.2 overs)
Matthew Hayden 58*, Adam Gilchrist 31*

Australia won by 10 wickets
Cricket Web Man of the Match: Stuart Clark

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