Relentless Aussies march on with Sri Lanka win

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.

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