Sangakkara, Mendis send Australia packing
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Scorecard:Australia v Sri Lanka
Player:DJ Hussey, MG Johnson, SL Malinga, BAW Mendis, J Mubarak, TM Dilshan, KC Sangakkara
Event:ICC World Twenty20 2009

DateLine: 8th June 2009


Kumar Sangakkara played a brilliant captain's knock and Ajantha Mendis bowled a fabulous spell, picking up three wickets in the middle of the Australian innings to send the Aussies out of the tournament in the first round itself.


Chasing 160 to win, Sri Lanka started on a fabulous note, Tillekeratne Dilshan (53 off 32 balls) especially looking extremely good. Sanath Jayasuriya though again looked patchy and the only shot that he played with great timing and power was brilliantly caught by David Warner at square leg.


Sangakkara then came in to bat and he and Dilshan added 62 for the second wicket in seven overs. Dilshan continued to torment the Aussie attack, taking all the bowlers to task. The duo was taking the match quickly away from the rivals.


Seeing that his pacers were not being able to deliver the goods, Ricky Ponting turned to Nathan Hauritz and the spin that he garnered in his first over encouraged Ponting to give Michael Clarke to bowl.


The left-arm spinner immediately delivered as he sent back the dangerous Dilshan off the first ball of his spell. Australia had reasons to celebrate again pretty soon as Mahela Jayawardene was dismissed after just 17 were added between the former and the current skipper.


By this time the run-rate also had started to dip and there wasn't too much reliable batting to come. But Sangakkara was alive to the occasion. He played a captain’s special and was there in the middle till the end, just to calm the nerves of the batsmen at the other end. He also hit a couple of sixes just when they were needed. Jehan Mubarak also came to the party scoring 21 off 12 deliveries which included hitting Brett Lee for two sixes.


The Lankans won in the 19th over with six wickets in hand.


Earlier, after winning the toss, Sangakkara invited Australia in to bat first. The decision paid dividends immediately as the previous match half-centurion Warner (0) got out in the first over itself, trying to square-cut Angelo Matthews only to find Dilshan at point.


From there Ricky Ponting (25 off 15 balls) and Shane Watson (22 off 21 balls) steadied the innings with some sedate batting. Then Watson unleashed and Isuru Udana was picked for a couple of boundaries and a six in his first over. Ponting went after Lasith Malinga in the next over and the strike bowler went for 15 in his first.


After the first five overs Australia were well placed with just one wicket down. In came Mendis and the script changed. The Aussies were facing him for the first time and the mystery man proved quite a handful. His first over went for one and he scalped Ponting, clean bowled trying to heave him over mid-off.


If that was not enough, Watson became his second victim in his next over and his figures at that stage read 2-0-4-2.


With the fall of Watson, two of Australia's best players of spin bowling, Brad Haddin (16 off 17 balls) and Michael Clarke joined hands to consolidate. Their plans though hardly worked as after a partnership of 15 runs between them, Malinga showed why he is considered such a lethal bowler in this format of the game.


A supremely bowled slower delivery shattered Haddin's stumps and Australia at this stage were reeling at 74 for four with the run-rate also dipping below seven. Five runs later Clarke (11) also fell caught and bowled brilliantly by Udana. With this half the Australian side was back in the dug-out and Mendis and Murali combine still had five overs between them.


The onus once again fell on the Hussey brothers to rescue Australia. But Mendis was in no mood to see a recovery happening. He again struck in his third over removing Mike Hussey, having him plumb in front for just one. Elder brother David Hussey though looked a tad comfortable against Mendis bringing all his Kolkata Knight Riders experience into play.


Australia gained a little impetus after this wicket with one of the best lower order all-rounders in world cricket, Mitchell Johnson (28 off 13 balls), starting to play some rollicking shots. He was particularly severe on Muralitharan hitting him for two huge sixes on the leg-side. The left- right duo added 41 runs for the seventh wicket before Udana got the better of David Hussey (28 off 22 balls).


In came Lee (15 off 5 balls) and went after Udana. The left-hander was clobbered for a four and a six by Lee. The last five overs yielded 65 runs and it was here that the game tended to swing a tad in favour of the Aussies.