News Desk: A quickfire half-century from all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and his 69-run partnership with skipper Aaron Finch helped defending champions Australia register a crucial seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their Group 1, Super 12 match of the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup at Perth on Tuesday. With this win, Australia is in fourth position in the points table with 2 points, one place below Asian champions Sri Lanka, who are in third with two points.
Chasing 158, Australia did not get a chance to hit boundaries easily as Lankan bowlers troubled them with their line and lengths. More than four overs went by when opener David Warner was caught by skipper Dasun Shanaka while attempting to drive. Spinner Maheesh Theekshana had given Lanka their first wicket at 26 runs and the southpaw was back in the pavilion for 11 off 10 balls.
Mitchell Marsh joined skipper Aaron Finch at the crease. Australia finished the powerplay without scoring even a single four or six, for the first time in their T20I history. In six overs, Australia was at 33/1, with Marsh (1*) and Finch (9*) at the crease.
In the second ball of the 8th over, Marsh broke the boundary drought by smashing Wanindu Hasaranga for a four and six. With that six, Australia crossed the 50-run mark in the 8th over.
Finch also let his arms loose at the first ball of the next over, launching a huge slog over wide-long on. Just when it seemed Aussies were accelerating, Marsh gave a catch to Bhanuka Rajapaksa at long-off. Dhananjaya de Silva sent Marsh back for 17 off 17 balls. Australia was 60/2 at this point in 8.3 overs.
Glenn Maxwell joined Finch. He swung things in Australia’s favour by smashing Hasaranga for two sixes and a four in the 10th over, which gave away 19 runs in total. At the end of 10 overs, Australia was at 85/2, with Maxwell (22*) and Finch (23*).
Maxwell had injected some life into the game, but was struck in the throat in 12th over. In the next over, Chamika Karunaratne picked up his wicket after Ashen Bandara caught him near the boundary rope. The all-rounder was dismissed for a quickfire 23 off 12 balls, reducing the Aussies to 89/3 in 12.2 overs.
Marcus Stoinis was next up at the crease. Australia reached the 100-run mark in 13.4 overs. Finch had kept one end steady with his patient approach while Stoinis feasted on the bowling of Shanaka and Hasaranga, smashing them for fours and sixes easily. Hasaranga, a star for SL all this while suffered the worst, smashed for 19 runs in his 15th over.
At the end of 15 overs, Australia was at 126/3, with Finch (27*) and Stoinis (34*) at the crease. Stoinis continued to assault the Lankan bowlers, forming a 20-ball 50-run partnership. He also brought up his half-century in just 17 balls, the fastest by an Aussie in T20I history.
The duo helped Australia win the match with 21 balls to spare and seven wickets in hand. Australia finished at 158/3 in 16.3 overs, with Stoinis having scored 59* in just 18 balls with four fours and six sixes and Finch unbeaten at 31* off 42 balls at the other end. Both had a partnership of 69 runs in just 25 balls.