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Australia v Sri Lanka
Grenada, 16 April 2007

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World Cup Super 8, Grenada: Australia 232-3 (42.4 overs) bt Sri Lanka 226 by 7 wickets

By Mark Mitchener

Ricky Ponting
Ponting came in at 76-1 but stayed in to see his side home
Australia wrapped up a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka with seven overs to spare, scoring 232-3 to extend their unbeaten World Cup run to 26 games.

Ricky Ponting (66) and Andrew Symonds (63) saw Australia home with an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand of 106.

Sri Lanka rested Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas, and their makeshift bowling attack rarely threatened.

Mahela Jayawardene (72) and Chamara Silva (64) had helped Sri Lanka make 226, while Nathan Bracken took 4-19.

Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody sprang a surprise with his decision to leave out Muralitharan - presumably to prevent Australia from getting in any practice against the star spinner ahead of a possible meeting between the sides in the final.

With seamer Vaas also rested and paceman Lasith Malinga still sidelined by injury, it meant leg-spinner Malinga Bandara and seamer Nuwan Kulasekara were handed their first appearances of this World Cup.

606: DEBATE
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As the match began, Bracken's left-arm swing made the first of three crucial early breakthroughs in three consecutive overs.

He trapped free-scoring opener Sanath Jayasuriya lbw for just 12, before Glenn McGrath received the benefit of a tight lbw call when Kumar Sangakkara fell for a duck.

Upul Tharanga then edged Bracken to Matthew Hayden at first slip to leave his side reeling at 27-3 in the seventh over as it was left to Jayawardene and Silva to build a patient partnership of 140 for the fourth wicket.

Nathan Bracken (right) is congratulated by Michael Clarke
Bracken (right) took four wickets and was economical early on
Silva took the attack to the Aussies with three early fours as paceman Shaun Tait proved wildly expensive early on, and he swept effectively against the spinners.

The game seemed to be turning against Australia as Jayawardene lofted McGrath back over his head for four.

Tait continued to prove expensive as Jayawardene sealed his 38th ODI fifty with a huge pulled six over square leg, while Silva reached his own half-century off 91 balls.

Silva eventually fell for 64 when he tried to slog-sweep Brad Hogg but got a top edge to Michael Clarke at short fine leg - and his captain soon followed when he was beaten in the flight by Hogg and stumped by Adam Gilchrist.

Hogg took 2-35 from his 10 overs in an impressive spell of containment which also included two key wickets, but wickets then tumbled.

Tait removed Tillakaratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold, while Kulasekara gave Hayden his second catch of the innings.

A brief show of defiance by Bandara and Farveez Maharoof, who compiled an unlikely ninth-wicket stand of 34 with some lusty blows off McGrath, brought up the 200 before the pair both eventually holed out as the innings ended with two balls to spare.

Gilchrist and Hayden started confidently against a bowling attack shorn of their three best bowlers in Malinga, Vaas and Muralitharan.

Hayden scored at a faster rate than his partner, as they put on 76 and even passed the record of most ODI opening partnerships of 50 or more, previously held by West Indies legends Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene
Jayawardene put on 140 for the fourth wicket with Chamara Silva
Although Gilchrist was dropped by Arnold at cover off Dilhara Fernando on 10, he and Hayden enjoyed easy pickings against the second-string attack.

Hayden soon lifted spinner Arnold over the ropes at long-off for his second six of the innings - but was caught at midwicket for 41 while attempting a similar shot.

Gilchrist followed in Arnold's next over when he was adjudged lbw for 30, leaving two new batsmen at the crease in Ponting and Clarke.

But the pair were happy to take regular singles and club the occasional boundary, taking no risks and adding 47 together until Clarke (23) drove Bandara to short cover where Dilshan took a low catch.

His replacement Symonds survived a strong stumping chance early on, but served early notice of his intentions with a lofted six off Jayasuriya, while he despatched Bandara for successive fours to leg.

Ponting, in contrast, concentrated on picking off singles when available, and his 61st ODI fifty came up off 67 balls - while the brutal Symonds reached his half-century off just 56 deliveries.

The all-rounder eventually overtook his captain with a bludgeoned pull for four to bring the scores level.

But Ponting ensured he finished on top with a six off Bandara and Australia reached their target with more than seven overs to spare.

However, with Sri Lanka already qualified for the semi-finals and looking likely to finish second or third, the end result will have had little effect on their overall World Cup campaign.

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