LEG-SPINNER Adam Zampa returned figures of 4-47 while Mitchell Marsh and Josh Inglis hit fifties to help Australia down Sri Lanka by five wickets for their first win at the 2023 Cricket World Cup on Monday (16).
Five-time winners Australia bundled out Sri Lanka for 209, a total they overhauled in 35.2 overs at a windswept Ekana Stadium in Lucknow.
The drama on the field may have been limited but that was not the case in the stands.
After rain interrupted Sri Lanka’s batting, strong winds brought scaffolding and hoardings crashing down onto the seats below.
With only around 3,000 people inside the 50,000-capacity ground, spectators managed to escape injury.
However, Australia’s reply was delayed when the umpires felt it unsafe to restart the match with high winds still a danger.
Once the game resumed, opener Marsh smashed 52 and wicketkeeper-batsman Inglis made 58 as Australia registered their first win in three matches.
Former champions Sri Lanka slipped to a third loss in as many games.
Marsh led the chase after Australia lost two early wickets of David Warner, for 11, and Steve Smith, for a duck, to slip to 24-2.
Marsh reached his first fifty in a World Cup off 39 balls but was soon run out after attempting a second run with Marnus Labuschagne, who hit 40.
Labuschagne and Inglis put on a key stand of 77 to deny the thin crowd of any late drama.
Left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka broke the partnership to send back Labuschagne for his third wicket and spinner Dunith Wellalage got Inglis.
But Glenn Maxwell, who hit a 21-ball 31, took the team home with Marcus Stoinis, who made 20, for company.
Madushanka had raised early hopes of a fightback after he trapped Warner and Smith – both lbw – in the same over.
The left-handed Warner reviewed his decision but the tracker showed the ball would have kissed leg stump and the batsman returned to the stands fuming.
Earlier, Sri Lanka elected to bat first and started with a 125-run opening stand between Pathum Nissanka (61) and Kusal Perera (78) before the opposition bowlers hit back to end the innings in 43.3 overs.
Perera reached his fifty with a boundary off Stoinis amid applause from the dressing room and a few Sri Lankan fans.
Nissanka soon claimed his second successive half-century as Sri Lanka charged ahead.
Skipper Pat Cummins dismissed Nissanka through a good outfield catch by Warner and then bowled Perera.
Zampa sent back skipper Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama on consecutive balls between overs to be on hat-trick avoided by Dhananjaya de Silva.
Rain interrupted play for about 25 minutes and the break only gave Australia more power to return with wickets as left-arm quick Mitchell Starc bowled De Silva.
Sri Lanka kept losing wickets and Zampa grabbed two more including Chamika Karunaratne, who was only called up to replace injured captain Dasun Shanaka at the weekend.