Sri Lanka 226 Australia 232-3: Ponting and Symonds overwhelm Sri Lanka

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The Independent Online

Australia won their 20th consecutive World Cup match last night when they defeated Sri Lanka by seven wickets. The overwhelming impression is that they will extend it to 23 in 11 days when this tournament's final at last takes place.

The defending champions, last beaten by Pakistan in the 1999 competition, have one more Super Eight match before the semi-finals. So far, they have barely put a toe wrong, let alone so much as a whole foot.

If Australia are huge favourites, Sri Lanka are many pundits' fancy to join them in the final. The match yesterday, with both sides already qualified for the last four in which it is virtually impossible for them to meet, was a dress rehearsal in name only. Australia, because they are Australia, picked their strongest available XI, Sri Lanka kept their powder dry by not playing their three best bowlers, including Muttiah Muralitharan.

At 27 for 3 it seemed as though Sri Lanka might as well have rested their three leading batsmen. Through a stand of 140 between Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva they recovered to set a mildly challenging target. Not for Australia, who came out slugging as usual as Ricky Ponting made his fourth fifty of this World Cup and Andrew Symonds his first.