BRIDGETOWN, (Reuters) – Australia took a huge step towards the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals with a crushing 81- run win over Sri Lanka yesterday that demonstrated once again the impressive depth of their strength. The Australians were in trouble at 67 for five before Cameron White led an extraordinary fightback with an unbeaten 85 off 49 balls which dominated their total of 168 for five.
White and Michael Hussey (39 not out) added 101 runs, a record sixth-wicket partnership in international Twenty20 as Sri Lanka were left frustrated.
White was dropped when on 23 by Ajantha Mendis at short leg as he top edged while attempting to sweep Suraj Randiv.
It was a missed chance that turned the game — by the end of his innings White had smashed six sixes and six fours in an explosive knock that put intense pressure on Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka have the man for most moments in opener Mahela Jaywardene, the tournament’s top scorer, but he failed for the first time in the Caribbean and his team collapsed to 87 all out against the relentless Australian attack.
The contrast between the two teams could not have been more stark — Australia managed to claw themselves into a winning position after their top order had failed while Sri Lanka simply folded after they lost Jayawardene and skipper Kumar Sangakkara. “When someone misses out, someone stands up,” White told reporters.
“In all facets of our game we are playing pretty well.”
Mitchell Johnson was the pick of the bowlers, ending with figures of three for 15 from 3.2 overs but all the Australian attack kept the ball in the right areas and never allowed Sri Lanka the chance to regroup.
Australia top Group F with four points and are almost certain to reach the semi-finals going into their match against West Indies tomorrow in St. Lucia.
Sri Lanka, though, having beaten West Indies, must come up with victory over winless India in their final game to progress.
“We started off well but we missed one crucial catch. We were dismal with the bat. They grabbed this match from us. The stand between White and Michael Hussey put it beyond us,” Sangakkara said.