London: Skipper Aaron Finch stroked his way to a majestic century as defending champions Australia inched closer to the semifinal berth with a crushing 87-run win over Sri Lanka in their World Cup fixture here Saturday.
Finch forged two crucial partnerships — 80 with his opening partner David Warner (26) and 173 with Steve Smith (73 off 59) for the third wicket — in his 132-ball 153 knock. It was his 14th ODI hundred which was laced with 15 fours and five sixes, two of them gigantic. Glenn Maxwell then provided the late charge with an unbeaten 25-ball 46 as Australia posted a challenging 334 for 7.
An elated Aussie skipper Finch, said, ‘I thought we were a touch short with the new ball. You want to bowl top of off, but when we were getting hit we had to change our plan and we were a bit slow to do that and lost a bit of momentum. It was nice to see Maxwell bowl well. He had a big boundary to play with, here. We found it tough to get ten overs out of him at Taunton with small boundaries. We have been improving each game. The way we dragged it in the middle overs was impressive’.
“Starc-ey – As soon as he gets a sniff of a new batter, he’s all over ’em. He is a world-class bowler and he is doing the business again in an ICC tournament. We will have to assess the conditions and think about the best combination for the game. We have played some really good cricket in patches and there are some areas to improve, which is a real positive.”
Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka captain, said, ” It was a good wicket. There was some seam movement, but it was still a good batting track. We bowled well in the first 25 overs. Then, Finch and Smith batted really well, but we came back strongly at the death. We got a good start with the bat. We couldn’t capitalise and when the middle-order came in, they couldn’t capitalize either and really couldn’t handle the pressure. The Australians are top-class bowlers, but we have faced them before, and we were missing a game plan against them to be honest. We lost a couple of matches because of the rain. We need to win a couple of matches, and if we can do it, we can definitely be in the top 4. We have got to get to the semi-finals and then take it step by step until the final.”