ICC World Twenty20 / News

Australia v Sri Lanka, Group F, Cape Town

Clinical Australia cruise into the semi-finals

Martin Williamson

September 20, 2007

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Australia 102 for 0 (Hayden 58*, Gilchrist 31* ) beat Sri Lanka 101 (Clark 4-20) by ten wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details



The rot starts here ... Brett Lee strikes to remove Sanath Jayasuriya with the third ball © Getty Images
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A match billed as a winner-takes-all contest was as good as decided before latecomers had even taken their seats at Newlands. In that time Australia blew away Sri Lanka's top order, and though they made a recovery of sorts to reach 101, it was a dismal performance and Australia strolled to a ten-wicket win with almost half their overs intact. In Twenty20 terms, it was a massacre. At least there were not too many people inside the ground to witness their humiliation.

Adam Gilchrist decided to stick Sri Lanka in to take advantage of any lingering moisture - this was an almost unreasonably early start to meet the demands of TV - and the move paid off handsomely. The toss was important, but Sri Lanka contributed significantly to their own downfall.

Although Australia bowled and fielded superbly, much of the blame must rest on Sri Lanka's batsmen who approached the match with a naivety that almost suggested they had never played a Twenty20 game. In the main, they perished playing ugly heaves and mows. The format calls for big hitting - Sri Lanka decided to go for reckless slogging.

They lost Sanath Jayasuriya, their top-order talisman, to the third ball of the innings from Brett Lee, a slightly dubious leg-before decision which might have partially resulted from another close call when he was rapped on the pads the previous ball. What followed was horrible.

Upal Tharanga swung and was caught in the deep, and Mahela Jayawardene got a leading edge attempting a swish to midwicket. Sixteen balls into their innings and Sri Lanka were 11 for 3. It should have been worse four balls later, but Brad Hodge mistimed a leap at mid-on and dropped Kumar Sangakkara. One ball later, Chamara Silva took a run to Andrew Symonds in the covers and would have perished had a diving underarm throw hit the stumps. It was almost lemming-like.

And Sri Lanka didn't learn. Their batsmen resembled windmills as they swished and missed with alarming regularity. Silva finally connected but a thick edge flew to Brett Lee at third man, and when Tillakaratne Dilshan stepped to the off and paddled Stuart Clark, the pick of the bowlers, straight to Gilchrist behind the stumps, Sri Lanka were 28 for 5.



Matthew Hayden powered to his third half-century of the tournament © Getty Images
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In his next over Clark struck twice, Sangakkara cut to point and then two balls later Farveez Maharoof, whose TV profile had just boomed that his favourite shot was the cover drive, slapped an ugly swing to point where Michael Clarke took a superb one-handed catch an inch above the turf.

It was only when Chaminda Vaas and Jehan Mubarak came together in a seventh-wicket stand of 40 that a semblance of common sense was restored, but the horse had long since bolted. Even Australia appeared to take their foot off the accelerator, content to allow singles at will while never letting the batsmen off the leash.

The only blemish for Australia came when Shane Watson, who had bowled neatly in his first three overs, pulled up clutching his hamstring as Lasith Malinga swung the first six of the innings in the 18th over. The injury-prone Watson immediately hobbled off for another visit to a man he knows so well, the team physio.

Chasing a small target, Australia could have cruised, but that's not their style. Matthew Hayden and Gilchrist showed the value of playing correctly, hitting the ball straight and hard. In so doing they clinically shredded the bowling and emphasised how wrong Sri Lanka's approach with the bat had been.

The pair started sedately before opening up, Hayden his typical bullying self, hitting the bulk of his boundaries in the V with brutal power. Two strikes off Maharoof, the second of which disappeared over long-off, underlined what an awesome force he remains. Gilchrist was not outshone, using the pace of the ball and picking gaps with precision.

Hayden brought up his fifty off 34 balls and then finished the match with a shot as vast as the victory itself, the ball disappearing out of the ground. By then Sri Lanka were a broken side.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
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