Sri Lanka eliminated Australia from the ICC World Twenty20 with a six-wicket victory at Trent Bridge. Kumar Sangakkara played a captain's innings to lead them across the line, with an over to spare, as they chased 160 after Tillakaratne Dilshan sparked the pursuit with an innovative 53 off 32 balls. Australia were set back by a magnificent display from Ajantha Mendis, who bamboozled with his variations, and although the match went to the final over Sri Lanka always held the edge to book their Super Eights berth.
Australia's stay in this tournament - the international title they don't hold - lasted three days and now they face two extra weeks in Leicester to prepare for the Ashes series. Make no mistake, they desperately wanted to win this event, and further stock their trophy cabinet, but were short on their skills for the second game running against a highly impressive Sri Lanka outfit.
With Sangakkara at the crease there was a sense of calm about the run-chase, even when the asking rate grew in excess of nine-per-over for a moment in the closing stages, and he was aided by a sparkling cameo from Jehan Mubarak. When Mubarak came to the crease a charged-up Brett Lee had bounced out Chamara Silva and he followed it up with three dot balls. However, Lee sent down a wide and the extra ball of the over was clouted over deep midwicket and you could see Australian shoulders slump.
In the next over Sangakkara, one of the most impressive cricketers in the world on and off the field, completed a classy fifty off 40 balls with a delicate dab-sweep off Nathan Backen. With 14 needed off two overs there was no way back for Australia and Mubarak cleared the ropes again before a wide sealed their elimination.
When Australia slumped to 94 for 6 in the 15th over the match was shaping to be very one-sided, but they added 65 runs in the last five overs to give the bowlers something to defend. However, they needed early wickets and despite a fine catch by David Warner to remove Sanath Jayasuriya the game was carried away from them through a fine innings from Dilshan.
He took 16 off Shane Watson's flustered first over, showing his full range of shots including a mow over midwicket and a deft sweep over fine leg, while his 26-ball half-century arrived with an extraordinarily cheeky top-edge flick over the wicketkeeper's head. Dilshan needed some convincing to opening the batting, but his elevation has been a revelation and he has the power to clear the in-field but also the subtle touch to manoeuvre the ball.
It needed a cracking delivery from Michael Clarke - his first - that pitched on leg, spun and hit middle to end Dilshan's innings and a period of tight bowling from the spinners gave Australia a slim lifeline. Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene were content to deal in singles, but with the run-rate climbing fractionally Jaywardene tried to go over the top and got an outside edge to backward point.
Sangakkara, though, knew perfectly when to pick his moments and deposited Nathan Haurtiz for two sixes in his last over, which went for 16. Lee, under huge pressure after his pasting at the hands of West Indies, tried to conjure a comeback but Australia just hadn't made enough runs.
The tone had been set in the first over of the match when Warner carved Angelo Mathews - a surprise new-ball option on his debut - to point but the key was always going to be Sri Lanka's spin. Watson and Ricky Ponting had begun to locate the boundary regularly when Mendis was thrown the ball for the final over of the Powerplay and the game changed.
He could have had Watson leg before with his first ball as he was beaten by one turning from leg to off, then with the final delivery of a brilliant over he uprooted Ponting's leg stump as the captain backed away. In his next over Mendis nailed Watson on the sweep and the new batsmen were prodding and poking uncertainly against his multitude of variations.
However, it's not just with spin that Sri Lanka's attack has a magical touch. Lasith Malinga's first over had been expensive, but he is an irresistible cricketer who can produce wonderful moments and a superbly disguised slower ball made Brad Haddin look foolish as it dipped late and took out two stumps.
Captains can often be left scratching their heads in Twenty20, but today everything Sangakkara tried work perfectly. He brought back Isuru Udana and the young left-armer produced a classy slower-ball that Clarke could only chip back down the pitch, before Mendis claimed his third by pinning Michael Hussey with one that zipped off the surface.
The next over proved Australia's best of the innings as Muttiah Muralitharan was taken for 21 with Mitchell Johnson launching two huge slow-swept sixes over deep midwicket. The damage, though, had already been done and a team so used to competing in the final stages of global events are packing their bags after the first round.