A disciplined Sri Lanka set up a semifinal date with India in the ICC Champions Trophy as they knocked out holders Australia by posting a 20-run win, with veteran Mahela Jayawardene caressing his way to an unbeaten 84-run knock here today.
Jaywardene made his runs off 81 balls to propel Sri Lanka to 253 for eight in their 50 overs, leaving Australia with a near impossible task of chasing down the target in 29.1 overs to ensure a semifinal berth at the Kennington Oval.
Australia couldn’t achieve the target in the required overs and were eventually all out for 233 in 42.3 overs.
During the course of his innings, the elegant Jayawardene crossed 11,000 runs in this form of the game, the eighth cricketer to do so.
In Sri Lanka’s bowling department, Nuwan Kulasekara was the pick of the lot as he finished with impressive figures of three for 42 in his nine overs.
Going into the match, Sri Lanka’s recent success against Australia provided them the psychological edge ¿- in the last 10 ODIs played between the two sides, Sri Lanka have won six while they drew the ODI series 2-2 earlier this year in Australia.
A last-wicket stand of 41 runs between Clint McKay (30) and Xavier Doherty (15 not out) frustrated the Lankans before Tillakaratne Dilshan pulled off a brilliant catch off his own bowling to seal the issue in his side’s favour.
The move not to bring back strike bowler Lasith Malinga, with Australia on the verge of defeat, was surprising. But Dilshan’s blinder ensured it was Sri Lanka, and not New Zealand in the last-four stage.
Adam Voges top-scored for Australia with a 62-ball 49 while Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade blazed their way to 32 and 31 respectively.
Lahiru Thirimanne contributed 57 for Sri Lanka while Mitchell Johnson was the best Australian bowler with figures of three for 48.