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February 11, 2006
Australia 178 for 1 (Cooper 84*, Henriques 79*) beat Sri
Lanka 177 (Cooray 43, Henriques 4-22) by nine wickets
Moises Henriques produced an allround display of sheer class as Australia crushed Sri Lanka at the SSC to progress to the semi-finals. Not content with knocking the stuffing out of the Sri Lankan batting, he then smashed an uncompromising 79 off 60 balls against a deflated attack. Tom Cooper was no slouch either with 84 off 93 as the pair flayed a stand of 146 in 21 overs.
While the clean striking from Henriques was breathtaking, his massive hits were effortless, sailing miles into the stands. He cleared the ropes on six occasions, one of which landed on the roof of the press box - a monstrous blow - and never came down again. Cooper had begun the chase in emphatic style, piercing the field off front and back foot and displaying another example of the form he produced against South Africa in the opening match, where he made 104.
Australia's intent to finish this match quickly, and not give the Sri Lanka spinners a chance to dominate, was evident when Henriques came in at No. 3. The team management explained they didn't see any point nudging around for the runs, something the top order clearly agreed with.
Henriques was delighted with the crushing nature of the win: "Everything went our way. It is sometimes difficult chasing a low target and you can start pushing around a little, but we just went out there and played as though we were batting first."
He also added that the cut-throat approach was something that had been discussed by the team. "Being ruthless is one thing we have really worked on, when a team is down and are we are on top we need to nail them. It showed at the end, where we could have easily lost a late wicket, but we fought hard to make sure we didn't lose our intensity and make it all the more convincing."
Each Sri Lankan bowler was treated with equal disdain, the slow left-armer Malinga Pushpakumara being creamed for 52 in five overs. They were hampered by Angelo Mathews' inability to bowl, owing to a groin strain which has troubled him throughout the tournament. His injury created a moment of controversy when he was allowed a runner, despite having come into the match carrying the injury.
However, even if Mathews had been fully fit it would not have made much difference. Sri Lanka never looked like being able to replicate the triumph of their senior side in Adelaide, yesterday, and were under pressure from the moment that Adam Ritchard removed Dimuth Karunaratne in the second over. By the end of the ninth over Henriques had begun his tour de force with two wickets, and the innings was struggling at 23 for 3.
Once again in this tournament, the Australia seamers managed to extract bounce from the pitch that no other team has managed. Twice the Sri Lankan batsmen were struck on the body or helmet and the quicks were not shy of using the short ball - and to good effect. Ritchard ensured Sri Lanka could never find any momentum, bowling his ten overs off the reel for just 20 runs, and Henriques explained: "The ball was swinging around early so we decided to keep him on as long as we could and he ended up bowling all ten."
Only when Mathews and Dilhan Cooray were together did the innings threaten to gain any semblance of control, their stand of 62 the only obstacle to Australia's march. Henriques broke the stand - no surprise given the day he was having - with a great delivery that squared-up Mathews, shortly after the Sri Lankan captain had asked for the runner.
This is not a bad Sri Lankan team but they had nothing to offer against their rampant opponents, despite having home advantage. After a scare against West Indies in the qualifying matches, Australia are peaking when it really matters. They are two wins away from burying the memories of 2004 in Bangladesh, and in this form they will take some stopping.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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