London, June 18: Sri Lanka set up a semi-final date with India after knocking holders Australia out with a 20-run victory in the final Group A match of the Champions Trophy 2013.
Australia had a tough task of scoring 254 in 29.1 overs to pip New Zealand on net run rate into the semi-finals. However, that effort did not materialise and they came very close to winning and sending Kiwis into the last-four. But Sri Lanka bowlers held their nerve to seal the game in the 43rd over on Monday (June 17).
England and Sri Lanka both finished with 4 points each in Group A. The hosts topped the table with a superior net run rate. New Zealand were third with 3 points while Australia ended a dismal campaign without a win and just the one point from the washed out game against the Kiwis.
England and South Africa face off in the first semi-final in London on June 19 while India and Sri Lanka lock horns in Cardiff on June 20.
Australia lost Shane Watson (5) early to Nuwan Kulasekara. Glenn Maxwell, promoted to number three, made an attacking 25-ball 32. Adam Voges was the top scorer with 49. Matthew Wade hit a 29-ball 31. Kulasekara took 3 wickets and Rangana Herath two.
The last pair of Clint McKay (30) and Xavier Doherty (15 not out) kept New Zealand interested in the tie with a fighting partnership of 41 runs. But Tillakaratne Dilshan pulled off a superb one-handed catch to signal the end of the contest. McKay and Doherty frustrated Sri Lanka for 12.1 overs. The 10th wicket partnership of 41 was the second best of the innings for Australia.
Earlier, veteran Mahela Jayawardene brought all his experience into play as he struck an unbeaten 84 to guide Sri Lanka to a respectable 253/8.
Jayawardene made his runs off 81 balls and was involved in an useful partnership of 65 for the sixth wicket with Dinesh Chandimal, who contributed 31 off 32 balls.
Sent into bat, Sri Lanka were off to a poor start losing two wickets with just 20 runs on the board. The islanders lost Kusal Perera early, seamer Mitchell Johnson having the left-handed batsman trapped in front of the wicket.
Clint McKay took the big wicket of Kumar Sangakkara when he had the experienced Sri Lankan batsman, trying to play his trademark shot through the cover region, caught by Glen Maxwell.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lahiru Thirimanne added 72 runs for the third wicket to steady the ship, before left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty sent back the opener, caught at slip by a diving Shane Watson for a 58-ball 34.
Diving to his right, Watson picked the ball low and one-handed. After labouring his way to a patient 57 off 86 balls, Thirimanne was done in by Johnson as he pulled a short and quick delivery outside off to Watson at mid-wicket.
He hit four boundaries during his knock. By the Thirimanne got out, Sri Lanka had made 128 for four, and it was time for Jayawardene to take charge of the situation.