Finch century powers Australia to 87-run win over Sri Lanka

LONDON (AP) — Australia moved to the top of the Cricket World Cup standings after beating Sri Lanka by 87 runs at the Oval on Saturday.

Captain Aaron Finch lost the toss again and was made to bat first, but he spearheaded Australia's effort by equaling his career-best 153 in a total of 334-7.

Counterpart Dimuth Karunaratne tried to inspire his side the same way, but after he was out for a career-best 97 in the 33rd over, Sri Lanka collapsed. From 186-2 to 247 all out in 45.5 overs, Sri Lanka's last eight wickets fell for 61 runs.

Mitchell Starc took 4-55, Kane Richardson 3-47, Pat Cummins 2-38 and Jason Behrendorff, making his World Cup debut in place of Nathan Coulter-Nile whose back stiffened up, claimed a wicket.

Australia's fourth win from five matches lifted it above New Zealand and England to lead the tournament halfway through its group stage matches.

Sri Lanka, which hadn't played in 11 days after two washouts, has only one win from five games but remains fifth overall.

Needing a record World Cup chase of 335, Sri Lanka took the attack to Australia.

Karunaratne and Kusal Perera hit 12 each off the first overs by Starc and Cummins. Karunaratne was the more streaky, but he and Perera showed impressive timing and power.

Starc was replaced after two overs and change bowler Behrendorff went for 18 in his third over.

Sri Lanka's risky approach paid off. The openers raced to 87-0, the highest World Cup score after 10 overs in 20 years.

Karunaratne reached his 50 with his seventh boundary, and Perera followed with a 33-ball 50.

Perera lost his middle stump to Starc on 52 at 115-1, and Karunaratne reined back on his shots.

Karunaratne lost Lahiru Thirimanne, who was cramped by Behrendorff and edged behind, but consolidated alongside Kusal Mendis.

Karunaratne passed his previous best ODI score of 77 and was set for a maiden century at 97 when he cut Richardson, straight to Glenn Maxwell in the gully.

At 186-3 in the 33rd over, the air went out of Sri Lanka's charge and wickets were shared around as Australia received catching practice.

Earlier, Finch lost the toss for the fifth match in a row but then made all the running for Australia. Opening partner David Warner, after his century on Wednesday against Pakistan at cozy Taunton, went back in his shell on the open plains of the Oval to try and preserve his wicket.

Despite Warner's restraint, Finch's placement together with untidy Sri Lankan fielding helped the openers compile their fourth half-century partnership of this World Cup. They were 80 without loss when Warner tried to cut Dhananjaya de Silva but the ball came on straighter and took the top of his middle stump.

Usman Khawaja was circumspect, too, and Australia went from overs 11-20 without scoring a boundary.

Khawaja was out trying to up the pace, and it took the arrival of the equally aggressive Steve Smith to free up Finch again.

Finch launched de Silva twice over long on, surged from 73 to 91, and reached his hundred off 97 balls with a six over long off. The floodlights came on as if to put more of a spotlight on the skipper, and he looked good for a double century.

But as soon as he equaled his best ODI score of 153 not out in March against Pakistan, Finch skied Isuru Udana and was caught in the covers. He banged his bat against his pads and walked off to a deserved ovation.

Smith was in fine form, too, but was out for 73 in the next over to a yorker by Lasith Malinga.

Maxwell typically smashed five boundaries and a six, all but one of them in Nuwan Pradeep's last over.

Sri Lanka finished on a high. Udana, the fast-bowling allrounder, starred with the wickets of Finch and Shaun Marsh, two run-outs, and a catch. And this was after he hurt his left shoulder from sliding into the advertising boards in the fourth over.


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