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Australia stroll to seven-wicket win

Australia continue their unbeaten streak as skipper Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds guide their side to a comprehensive win against Sri Lanka.

cricket Updated: Apr 17, 2007 19:29 IST
Anjali Behl

Holders Australia continued their unbeaten streak as skipper Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds guided their side to a comprehensive win against Sri Lanka in the Super Eight match at the Grenada National Stadium on Monday.

This was Australia's 26-game unbeaten run at the World Cup since losing to Pakistan during the 1999 tournament in England.

Both sides had already qualified for the semi-finals on April 24 and 25. The 1996 World Cup winners' decision to omit frontline bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan stunned the Aussies.

Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden gave their team a flying start while compiling their 25th fifty-run partnership. Russel Arnold gave his team vital breakthroughs by sending back the openers in close succession.

But Ponting (66) and Symonds' (63) unbeaten run helped the team, chasing 227 to win, total 232 for three with an unbroken stand of 106 in a win achieved with 44 balls to spare. The captain hit a six off leg-spinner Malinga Bandara to seal the victory.

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva helped their side post a modest total as the middle order provided little resistance to the Aussie bowling. The team was skittled out for 226 with two balls remaining.

Replaced speedster Nathan Bracken's double strike packed the openers while Glenn McGrath sent back Kumar Sangakkara as the scoreboard read 27/3 in 6.4 overs.

Sanath Jayasuriya was trapped in the fifth over for a paltry score of 12. McGrath followed suit to trap Sangakkara leg-before for nought.

Upul Tharanga was the third man out as Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting dived to catch the ball at first slip. The former got lucky as the batsman returned for six off Bracken's delivery.

Later, Jayawardene steadied the side with with Silva. Brad Hogg broke the successful 136-run stand between the duo packing the latter at 64. The bowler struck back to uproot Jayawardene at 72.

Next, Brad Hodge caught the ball at square leg to dismiss Dilshan off Shaun Tait's delivery. Sri Lankan innings looked precarious with 178/6 in 41 overs. Tait came back to pack Arnold in the 43rd over to heighten the opponents's woes.

Electing to bat, Sri Lanka replaced the star bowlers - Vaas and Murali by leg-spinner Bandara and pace bowler Nuwan Kulasekara, both of whom were making their debuts at the World Cup. Injured fast bowler Lasith Malinga was omitted for the second successive match.

Australia made just one change to the side that had trounced over Ireland, with Bracken returning for Stuart Clark.

Teams

Australia: Adam Gilchrist (wicketkeeper), Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Brad Hodge, Michael Hussey, Brad Hogg, Nathan Bracken, Shaun Tait, Glenn McGrath.

Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper), Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekara, Malinga Bandara, Dilhara Fernando.