Adam Zampa and Josh Inglis breathed life into Australia’s struggling World Cup season by playing starring roles with the ball and bat respectively in the five-wicket win over Sri Lanka.
Victory in Lucknow gives Australia some breathing room after losing their first two games in the tournament and another defeat risks dropping them out of the knockout round race.
It wasn’t always easy for Australia as they lost the toss and struggled to contain Kusal Perera (78) and Pathum Nissanka (61) during a 125-run opening partnership.
Australia’s recent batting woes threatened to surface again when David Warner (11) and Steve Smith (0) fell to Dilshan Madushanka in the same game while chasing 210 after bowling against Sri Lanka.
But ultimately Sri Lanka’s 9-52 defeat, sparked by Zampa (4-47) and Pat Cummins (2-32), and Inglis’ best ODI knock of his career (58 runs off 59 balls) were enough to win to separate the teams.
Pat Cummins, who bowled Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera for 78, proved to be the crucial wicket for Australia.
With victory within reach, Australia accelerated to increase their net run rate and reached the target in the 36th over.
Sri Lanka have now lost their first three games of the tournament and face an uphill battle to progress beyond the group stages.
Makeshift opening batsman Mitch Marsh (52) regained his pre-World Cup form with a proactive start to Australia’s innings at the crease.
Mitchell Marsh returned to form with a powerful half-century as Australia beat Sri Lanka’s 209.
He was determined as Warner and Smith both went lbw, with the former furious at falling victim to an inconclusive DRS review that deferred to the on-field umpire’s call.
Inglis began a mature innings after Marsh was bowled by Chamika Karunaratne, recognizing that patience would carry the day given Australia’s low target.
He continued to hold his own in the eleven ahead of usual wicketkeeper Alex Carey, but was pushed into the background when Glenn Maxwell (31 runs from 21 balls) was introduced late on for a furious cameo.
When Inglis was caught bowling by Dunith Wellalage at backward point, Australia needed just 18 runs to win.
Earlier, Cummins sparked a collapse by taking the breakthrough wicket of Nissanka, one of two Sri Lankan batsmen caught in Warner’s fielding masterclass. He then sent Perera off with a length ball that shot into the off-stump, making it 157-2.
Later, the captain punished Dunith Wellalage for trying to sneak in a single by hitting the stumps straight from mid-on.
Australia exploited the lack of depth in Sri Lanka’s batting order, with Charith Asalanka (25) the only man outside the openers to reach double figures.
Zampa was out of form and under pressure as Australia’s only front-spinner of the tournament, but ended the day with his best figures in an ODI World Cup match.
The leg-spinner defeated Sri Lanka’s top two batters, Kusal Mendis (9) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (8), within two balls.
David Warner made a spectacular catch deep to deny Adam Zampa’s Kusal Medis.
Warner made a big impact from the Lucknow outfield when he dived to dismiss Mendis deep at mid-wicket from Zampa’s bowling before Sri Lanka unsuccessfully denied Zampa’s LBW cry on Samarawickrama.
A strong wind blew banners from the roof of the stadium into the crowd in Lucknow, delaying the start of the second innings as ground officials secured the area.
Three times early on, Mitchell Starc withdrew from his run-up to warn Perera not to step out of his goal area, but Mankad’s threats failed.