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Khawaja, bowlers help Australia to second warm-up win

Usman Khawaja’s composed 89, following a collective bowling effort earlier in the day, helped Australia march to a comfortable five-wicket victory in their second warm-up fixture, against Sri Lanka on Monday (May 27). After the Australian spinners restricted Sri Lanka to a sub-par 239/8, Khawaja was the common denominator in the second, third and fourth-wicket partnerships that made the chase look a mere formality.

Australia’s reply though didn’t get off to an ideal start with captain Aaron Finch falling to Nuwan Pradeep off an inswinging delivery that beat the inside edge and struck him on his pads. The appeal was turned down initially, but Sri Lankans reviewed the decision immediately. Khawaja then joined hands with Shaun Marsh, who came in at one-drop, to stitch an 80-run partnership for the second wicket that put the chase back on track.

Marsh took eight deliveries to open his account but quickly caught up with Khawaja, with the help of three boundaries in the space of four balls. Khawaja was particularly impressive square of the wicket, and the pair rotated the strike well to keep the scoreboard ticking. The opener raised his half-century off 55 balls with the first ball of the 20th over but one ball later, Marsh decided to take on Dhananjaya de Silva and picked out long-on instead to depart for a composed 34 off 46.

With no rush to get the runs, Australia got Maxwell some practice, sending him in at No. 4. The all-rounder’s hit a run-a-ball 36 – fetching a boundary each in three successive overs during his 10-over stay – as Khawaja took a backseat soon after his fifty. The pair added 65 runs for the third wicket, off 63 balls. Marcus Stoinis did the bulk of scoring in his 42-run stand with Khawaja, upping the ante in due course as he went form 7 off 13 deliveries to a 29-ball 32. Jeffery Vandersay had both the set batsmen dismissed in the space of five overs that followed, but those wickets were a mere consolation for Sri Lanka. Alex Carey and Pat Cummins combined to polish up the chase by knocking off the 22 required with more than five overs to spare as Australia rounded up their warm-ups with successive wins.

If Australia didn’t let their run-rate drop below 5, Sri Lanka struggled, for majority of their innings, to get it past 4. They were restricted to 239 despite a composed half-century from Lahiru Thirimanne at the top and a Dhananjaya de Silva cameo towards the end after having elected to bat. Sri Lanka were comfortably placed at 110 for 2 at one stage, but the Australian spinners and part-timers turned the tables on them in the middle overs. If not for de Silva’s brisk 43 at the end, Sri Lanka could have folded for a sub-200 score.

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins troubled the Sri Lankan openers with the new ball, and even created a few chances that they failed to latch on to. Thirimanne broke the shackles as he hit Kane Richardson for three successive boundaries in an over to pep up the scoring rate. But the bowler came back strongly to take out Dimuth Karunaratne with a short ball. Kusal Perera, like the openers, got a life early into his innings when Australia missed a second run-out chance in the 11th over, but failed to capitalise on it. He crawled to 12 off 19 before being trapped lbw off Glenn Maxwell just one ball after the drinks break.

Thirimanne forged another partnership, worth 39 with Kusal Mendis, in which he did the bulk of scoring again. He raised his half-century, off 62 deliveries, but Lyon bowled him through the gate soon after. The wicket of the set batsman opened floodgates as most middle-order batsmen got starts, but neither managed to capitalise on it. The two Mendises – Kusal (24) and Jeevan (21) – perished in their attempt to sweep Adam Zampa, while Angelo Mathews hit a half-volley back to Steve Smith who took a smart catch diving to his left.

De Silva arrested the slide and even stepped on the accelerator as he welcomed Richardson back into the attack with successive boundaries, and a total of 14 off the over. The batsman fetched another set of boundaries off Lyon with the following over yielding 13 in total. The fifty of the partnership came off 45 balls but just as Sri Lanka looked set for 250-plus, Starc returned to stop the bleeding. He put an end to de Silva’s cameo, seven short of a fifty, in the penultimate over while Cummins struck with the first ball of the 48th to dismiss Thisara.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 239/8 in 50 overs (Lahiru Thirmianne 56, Dhananjaya de Silva 43; Adam Zampa 2-39, Pat Cummins 1-23) lost to Australia241/5 in 44.5 overs (Usman Khawaja 89; Jeffrey Vandersay 2-51) by 5 wickets.

News Credit – Cricbuzz

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