Finch hundred powers Australia to 334-7 vs Sri Lanka
LONDON (AP) — Aaron Finch hit a career-best 153 in spearheading Australia to 334-7 against Sri Lanka in the Cricket World Cup on Saturday at the Oval.
Australia's third consecutive 300-plus total and biggest yet of this campaign was powered by the captain's 14th one-day international hundred in a partnership of 173 with Steve Smith, who made 73.
After Finch and Smith were out in the 43rd and 44th overs, Glenn Maxwell plundered 46 from 25 balls but, as against Pakistan, Australia wasted wickets in hand at the end by losing three wickets in the space of 10 balls.
Still, Sri Lanka was left with a daunting chase in its first match in 11 days after two washouts.
Isuru Udana, the fast-bowling allrounder, starred with the wicket 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.
Finch lost the toss for the fifth match in a row but made all the running early for Australia. Opening partner David Warner, after his coming-out century on Wednesday against Pakistan at cozy Taunton, went back in his shell in the open plains of the Oval to try and preserve his wicket.
Despite Warner's restraint, Finch's placement and untidy fielding helped the openers tally their fourth half-century partnership of this World Cup. They were 80 without loss when Warner tried to cut Dhanajaya 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 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 Udana to a catch 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 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 took three quick wickets, all of them involving Udana, to finish on a high, but the 334 total will intimidate a side which hasn't batted for 11 days.