Sri Lanka reached the Champions Trophy semifinals with a 20-run victory over holder Australia in the last league match at the Oval on Monday.
The Sri Lankans, who needed a win to stay in the competition, relied on aggressive half-centuries from Mahela Jayawardena and Lahiru Thirimanne to score 253 for eight after being sent in to bat.
Seamer Nuwan Kulasekara then picked up three wickets, effected a run-out and took a catch as the Australians were bowled out for 233 in 42.3 overs.
Sri Lanka and England finished level with four points each, but the host topped the group due to a superior net run-rate and will meet Group ‘B’ runner-up South Africa in Wednesday’s semifinal at the Oval.
Sri Lanka will clash with Group ‘B’ winner India in the second semifinal in Cardiff on Thursday in a repeat of the 2011 World Cup final in Mumbai which the Indians won.
The final is at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Sunday.
Australia, which needed to win in 29.1 overs to qualify, made a brave bid to secure its first victory in the tournament with belligerent batting led by Adam Voges’ top score of 49.
The Aussies were 192 for nine when the last-wicket pair of Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty gave Sri Lanka a fright by adding 41 amid mounting tension.
Tillakaratne Dilshan ended the drama with a spectacular return catch to dismiss McKay, who made a career-best 30. Doherty remained unbeaten on 15.
The fightback would have been followed keenly by New Zealand, who would have joined England in the semifinals if the last pair had scored the remaining runs. In the end, the Black Caps were stranded on three points, one behind both England and Sri Lanka. Australia finished with just one point through a rain-affected game. — AFP