Finch, Head star in Australians' tense win

Australians 319 for 8 (Finch 137, Head 85*, Pradeep 3-57) beat Sri Lankans 318 for 7 (Mathews 95, Gunaratne 70*, Henriques 3-46) by two wickets

Aaron Finch raised a century off only 76 balls © Getty Images

After weeks of pay talks with their board, there was some cheer for the Australians, on the field, as they warmed up for the Champions Trophy with a two-wicket win over Sri Lanka at the Oval. Aaron Finch smashed 137 off 109 balls with 11 fours and six sixes while Travis Head, reprieved on 60, made an unbeaten 85 to help Australia overhaul 318 with two balls to spare.

The victory would be that much sweeter to the Australians, even though this was only a precursor to the main tournament, as it came without their captain Steven Smith and frontline fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who were both rested.

All this meant Angelo Mathews‘ 95, which underlined his importance in Sri Lanka’s starting XI, went in vain. Mathews, playing his first competitive match for his country after a four-month layoff due to a hamstring injury, did bulk of the damage in allrounder Asela Gunaratne’s company. The pair added 91 in 92 balls to offset Sri Lankans’ middle order woes; they had been reduced to 152 for 5 in 28 overs.

Mathews, who walked in at 71 for 3 in the 12th over, began cautiously – taking 77 balls to get to his half-century – before cutting lose in the end overs. His innings ended when he holed out to Adam Zampa in the 44th over. Gunaratne then took seamer Josh Hazlewood for three sixes and a four in the penultimate over. He was well supported by legspinning allrounder Seekkuge Prasanna, who hit 31 off 19 balls, as Sri Lankans took 57 off the last five overs.

The Australians started their chase in a sedate manner but Finch’s blitz soon helped them take control. The opener raised his century off just 76 balls with a six off Gunaratne. He added 75 with Head before Nuwan Pradeep gave his side hope by getting rid of Finch and Glenn Maxwell off successive deliveries. But reprieving Head on 60 with Australia needing 21 off 15 proved costly in the end for Sri Lankans, who will play New Zealanders at Edgbaston on May 30

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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