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Sri Lanka dump Australia from World Twenty20

NOTTINGHAM, June 9 – Skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan hit robust half-centuries as Sri Lanka sent Australia packing from the World Twenty20 with a six-wicket win.SANGAKARAR_407373622.jpg
Australia, asked to bat by Sangakkara in his first match as captain, managed only 159-9 in good batting conditions as mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis and fast bowler Lasith Malinga claimed three wickets each.

Opener Dilshan then plundered 53 off 32 balls and left-handed Sangakkara made an unbeaten 55 to fire Sri Lanka home with six deliveries to spare.

Jehan Mubarak hit 21 not out to keep his captain company till the end, which came when Mitchell Johnson sent down a wide off the first delivery of the final over.

Sangakkara celebrated his first stint as Sri Lanka’s captain by warning rivals he was hungry for more scalps.

"I can’t ask for more, but this is just the start. We want to continue in the same vein," he said after the six-wicket win over Australia at Trent Bridge on Monday night.

The left-hander himself led from the front with an unbeaten 55, building on the robust 53 off 32 balls by Tillakaratne Dilshan, as Sri Lanka surpassed Australia’s 159-9 with six balls to spare.

Ricky Ponting’s men, beaten by the West Indies in their first match, bowed out of the tournament with their fifth successive Twenty20 defeat and ample time in hand to prepare for next month’s Ashes series.

Sri Lanka and the West Indies, who take the two Super Eights places from the group, play each other in the inconsequential last league match on Wednesday.

"We don’t want to take anything easy," said Sangakkara. "We want to beat the West Indies also, so that we are on a roll going into the Super Eights.

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"I don’t want us to get too carried away by just one win. The Twenty20 game can be very demanding. You have to be up to it every single day.

"It feels great to beat a side like Australia. It was a case of sticking to the basics, sticking to our game plan.

"But the key to beating Australia is that everyone in the squad must believe that we can win. Now there are a few areas we need to brush up on, so that we will be even better in the days ahead," he said.

Ricky Ponting’s men, beaten by the West Indies in their first match, bowed out of the tournament with their fifth successive Twenty20 defeat and ample time in hand to prepare for next month’s Ashes series.

Sri Lanka and the West Indies, who take the two Super Eights places from the group, play each other in the inconsequential last league match on Wednesday.

"It’s disappointing to go out of the tournament and I can’t explain why," said Ponting.

"The training was spot-on and there was a good attitude in the group. But in the big moments we haven’t been able to play and we made too many mistakes.

"We knew that it would be a huge challenge against their spinners. We knew we had to play them well. We didn’t do that and Sri Lanka deserved to win the game.

"Now we have to move on as quickly as possible and focus on the Ashes."

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Sangakkara said it was crucial to have confidence they could win.

"It was a great performance. When you play against Australia the key is to believe you can win," he said.

"Our strength has always been spin bowling and we played two guys whom the Australians haven’t seen much of. So their batsmen couldn’t really target one single bowler.

"Now we want to beat the West Indies in the final group match. We can’t afford to be complacent."

Mendis, who turns the ball both ways without a visible change in his bowling action, wrecked the top order in a match Australia had to win to stay in the competition.

Slinger Malinga took care of the lower order as Australia collapsed to 94-6 in the 15th over, before David Hussey and Johnson led a late revival.

The pair put on 41 off 21 balls for the seventh wicket with Hussey hitting 28 off 22 balls and Johnson smashing 38 off 13 with two fours and as many sixes.

Sri Lanka were playing their first international match since the terror attack on their team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore on March 3 which left seven players injured and killed eight Pakistani security men.

Sangakkara’s team was greeted to Trent Bridge by some 100 people waving banners in protest against what they claimed was killing of innocent Tamils by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the war against the Tamil Tigers.

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