Glenn Maxwell ton inspires Australia win over Sri Lanka
51 ball century secures quarter-final berth despite Dilshan and Sangakkara resistance
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell scored the second fastest century in World Cup history, after Kevin O’Brien. Photograph: Reuters
Maxwell brought up his maiden one-day international hundred off 51 balls, one more than Kevin O’Brien took during Ireland’s famous win over England four years ago, as Australia ran up a daunting 376 for nine batting first in Sydney.
Maxwell struck 10 fours and four sixes in his 102 while Steve Smith (72), captain Michael Clarke (68) and Shane Watson (67) were also among the runs as the tournament co-hosts made hay after winning the toss at the SCG.
However, Sri Lanka refused to go down without a fight and, despite losing Lahiru Thirimanne in the second over, they remained well in contention as the indefatigable Kumar Sangakkara became the first player to notch three consecutive centuries at a World Cup.
The 37-year-old Sangakkara, who is retiring from ODI cricket after the tournament, scored 104 off 107 balls to follow up his tons against England and Bangladesh.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, who hit Mitchell Johnson for six successive fours in the same over during his 62, and Dinesh Chandimal also clubbed quickfire half-centuries as Sri Lanka sought what would have been the third highest successful run chase in ODI history.
With nine overs to go they were actually ahead of Australia’s score at the same stage having reached 280 for four, but they immediately saw Chandimal retire hurt and that signalled the end of their challenge.
Chandimal had blazed 52 off just 24 balls but he was struggling with a what looked to be a hamstring injury and was unable to continue.
Once he departed, Sri Lanka subsided to 312 for nine and — with Chandimal not reappearing — Australia were able to celebrate their third victory in Group A and a place in the last eight.
Earlier it was man of the match Maxwell who provided the fireworks as Australia ran up another mammoth total at this year’s tournament.
He had a life on 95 when Sangakkara spilled a steepling catch running back, but still looked on course to claim O’Brien’s World Cup record for the fastest ton.
However, Maxwell — who admitted after the match he was not aware what the record was — just missed out before seeing his power-packed stay at the crease ended soon after by Thisara Perera.
His innings proved the difference in the end though, as Sri Lanka’s valiant run chase fell short despite Sangakkara’s record-breaking ton .