All-rounder Glenn Maxwell led a brutal Australian assault with his maiden ODI hundred as the four-time winners overcame a spirited Sri Lanka by 64 runs and inched closer to securing a quarterfinals berth in the cricket World Cup, here today.
Opting to bat in the Pool A match, Australia posted a mammoth 376 for nine against a hapless Sri Lanka side, before the islanders' innings ended at 312 in 46.2 overs.
Australian batsman Glenn Maxwell lofts a ball away o the bowling from the Sri Lanka bowling during their 2015 Cricket World Cup Group A match in Sydney. Pic/AFP
Kumar Sangakkara tried to make a match of it, notching up his 24th ODI ton during an innings that saw him complete 14,000 runs in this format, only the second player after Sachin Tendulkar to reach the milestone.
After the veteran Sangakkara's dismissal, Dinesh Chandimal kept Sri Lanka alive with a swashbuckling 24-ball 52, but the islanders were rocked after the batsman was forced to retire hurt at a crucial juncture due to a hamstring injury.
Earlier, besides Maxwell's swashbuckling 53-ball 10, which was the second fastest World Cup hundred, the Australian scorecard was studded with three fluent half-centuries in a formidable middle-order batting performance.
Maxwell got to the three-figure mark in just 51 balls, just one short of the World Cup record held by Ireland's Kevin O'Brien.
Skipper Michael Clarke (68), Steve Smith (72) and all-rounder Shane Watson (67) showed rampaging form during the course of their fifties as Australia sent the Lankans on a leather hunt in front of a packed house at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.
When their turn to bat came, Sri Lanka were served well by Sangakkara's 24th ODI century, Tillakaratne Dilshan (62) and Chandimal. Sangakkara hit 11 boundaries while Chandimal struck eight fours and a six.
But in the end their efforts proved to be much less than what was required, with the asking rate heading north with each delivery.
Chandimal retiring hurt at the start of the 42nd over affected the Lankans' momentum and they failed to recover from that blow, losing skipper Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera in quick succession.
When Chandimal walked out, Sri Lanka were 280 for four with the game seemingly heading towards a close finish. But the Australians capitalised by taking a couple of quick wickets to shut the door on the opposition.
James Faulkner emerged as the most successful bowler from the Australian side, returning impressive figures of three for 48, while there were two wickets apiece for Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson, who made a comeback after being hit for six boundaries in an over by Dilshan at the start of Lankan innings.
For the hapless Lankans, pace spearhead Lasith Malinga was the only bowler to hold his own with figures of 2/59 in his quota of 10 overs.
The Aussies, left rattled by a one-wicket loss to New Zealand in their previous match, came out all guns blazing today and even though explosive opener David Warner (9) was out early, the hosts simply decimated the Sri Lankan bowling attack.
The assault started with Clarke and Smith combining for a 134-run third-wicket stand during which the skipper's confident demeanour put to rest any speculation regarding his fitness after a hamstring surgery, which had created doubts about his participation in the World Cup.
While Smith smashed seven fours and a six during his 88-ball stay in the middle, Clarke struck half a dozen fours and a six in his 68-ball knock.
This was followed by a brutal assault by Maxwell, during which the imposing all-rounder whacked 10 fours and four sixes, completely taking the wind out Sri Lanka's sail.
The ferocity and disdain with which he hit the islanders all over the park had the packed stadium on its feet even as the Lankans scurried for cover.
He shared a 160-run fifth-wicket stand with fellow all-rounder Watson, who roared back to form after a prolonged wretched run with the bat, striking seven fours and a couple of sixes in a 41-ball effort.
For the Lankans, Thisara Perera also picked up a couple of wickets in his nine overs but they cost a whopping 87 runs.