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Australia dumped from T20 World Cup

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austr.jpgSri Lanka did the rest of the challengers for the T20 World Cup a huge favour, completing the task started by Chris Gayle and the West Indies on Saturday, beating the mighty Australians by 6 wickets, thereby ending their challenge in the competition.

The Australians made first use of the pitch, and their innings was characterized by a number of batsmen getting starts, and then falling like young bachelors in their prime. No batsman made it past 30, and the Aussies stumbled to 159 for 9 thanks predominantly to some late order hitting from Mitchell Johnson. The Sri Lankan innings was more structured with two of their top three getting half-centuries. The nature of their construction was however completely contrasting, as Tillakaratne Dilshan went hammer and tongs after the bowling from ball 1 while new skipper Kumara Sangakkara dropped anchor at one end and batted through most of the innings.

This is how the match unfolded...


Sangakkara won the toss and decided to put Australia in to bat in what was a must win game for the Aussies. Angelo Mathews opened the bowling for Sri Lanka and struck straight away getting the dangerous David Warner caught at point for a duck. There was a surprise from the other end with veteran Sanath Jayasuriya being given the new ball. Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was quick to capitalize on the decision smashing the first boundary of the match. Shane Watson then got stuck into debutant Isuru Udana and took the youngster for two fours and a six in his opening over. Sangakarra then brought on Lasith Malinga but the slinger was taken for three fours by Ponting. Australia were off to a flier with 47 runs in the first 5 overs.

Ajantha Mendis became the fifth bowler to be introduced inside the first six overs and the mystery spinner paid dividends getting Ponting out, bowled for 25. Haddin came in at number four and clobbered a huge six off Jayasuriya, but then saw his partner Watson falling to Mendis for 22. Australia were 70-3 at the end of 10 overs with Haddin and Michael Clarke at the centre. But the stand was soon broken by Malinga who deceived Haddin with a slower ball which crashed into the off stump. It got worse for Australia when Udana got rid of Clarke caught and bowled to reduce the Aussies to 79-5.

It was now up to the Hussey brothers to take their team to a respectable score. David Hussey nailed Mendis for a huge six but in the same over his brother Mike got out trapped leg before for 1. Mitchell Johnson came out at number 8, and was aggressive from the word go. The left hander got down on one knee and clobbered Muralitharan for two huge sixes in the 16th over which went for 21. Australia were 129-6 with 2 overs to go when Udana was brought on for his third spell.

The slow-medium bowler with the excessively long run-up was hammered for a six by Hussey off the first ball, but the batsman found himself walking back off the very next delivery, caught by Jayasuriya at point. Brett Lee came in next and he too swung the bat with great effect. Udana was taken for a four and a six off consecutive balls. The last over bowled by Malinga was an eventful one with two wickets and three fours coming off it. This helped Australia to climb up to a competitive score of 159.

Dilshan started the proceedings for Sri Lanka with a thumping cut shot through the covers for four as Brett Lee was still struggling to find his rhythm after a disastrous opening game against the West Indies. Dilshan continued his aggressive approach striking two more boundaries off Lee's new ball partner Mitchell Johnson. Lee then got the big wicket of Jayasuriya in the third over, caught brilliantly by David Warner at deep square leg. But the over was spoiled by Sangakkara who found the fence twice off the last two balls.

Dilshan, who had a terrific IPL for the Delhi Daredevils then banged Nathan Bracken over the covers, followed by four boundaries off Shane Watson's first over. The shot of the over being a full blooded sweep shot which left Watson completely dumbfounded. Sri Lanka were 62-1 at the end of six overs, looking the favorites to win with just 98 more needed off 84 balls. Johnson was brought on to curb the flow of runs and he started out well with just 5 runs coming off the over. Dilshan soon brought up his fifty with an outrageous shot over the keeper's head which made many wonder if this was still cricket being played out there in the middle.

Spin was introduced with Nathan Hauritz being given the ball, and the off-spinner found turn straight away. This prompted Ponting to bring on Michael Clarke from the other end and the move paid dividends straight away. Dilshan found his middle stump shattered by a peach of a ball which pitched outside leg and turned sharply. The spinners did not give away any easy runs which sent the required rate creeping up again. 65 were needed off the last 8 overs, and Hauritz was rewarded for his fine bowling, getting the prize wicket of Mahela Jayawardene caught at point for 9. The runs were coming at a snail's pace with 54 needed off 36, but Sangakkara then decided to take charge as he struck Hauritz for two sixes in the 15th over. The equation was back in Sri Lanka's favor with just 38 needed off the last 5 overs.

Bracken gave his team a chance bowling a tight 5 run over before Lee came back to dismiss Chamara Silva for 11. The fighting spirit of the Australians was still evident and the game was far from over. Jehan Mubarak who came in to replace Silva showed his intentions straight away dispatching Lee for a six over long-off. 24 were needed off the last 3 overs and Sangakkara was batting sensibly, rotating the strike with ease. He also managed to paddle sweep Bracken for a four to bring down the equation to a little over a run a ball.

Mubarak then hit the final nail in Australia's coffin as he clobbered Lee for a monster six over wide long-on followed by a streaky slice for four just over the outstretched fingers of Mitchell Johnson at mid-off. Ponting must have been fuming inside as his premier fast bowler for so many years was getting the treatment once again, and Sri Lanka were left with the task of scoring just one from the final over to seal the win. Mitchell Johnson denied Mubarak the pleasure of scoring the winning runs, bowling one down the leg side to bring proceedings to a mild end.

It'll be a hard pill for the Australians to swallow, made especially difficult by the fact that most of this team will hang around England for the next few weeks while the rest of the world competes for the Cup, as they get in some early preparation for the Ashes.

Tuesday sees Pakistan take on the Netherlands in what is a 'must-win-big' game for last year's losing finalists. That match will be followed by a dead rubber between South Africa and New Zealand.


Mini Scorecard:

Australia 160/9 (20 overs)
Johnson 28          Mendis 3-20

Sri Lanka 161/4 (19 overs)
Sangakkara 55    Lee 2-39

Man of the match: Kumara Sangakkara

Photograph Courtesy: ICC

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