Rain washes out Australia-Sri Lanka match

A sell-out 35 000 crowd in Colombo was left disappointed after heavy rain robbed them of a potentially thrilling match between co-hosts Sri Lanka and defending champions Australia on Saturday.

The Group A clash between the 1996 winners and winners of the past three World Cups was shaping up well until heavy rain, coupled with thunderstorms, forced the teams from the field. The match was later abandoned.

The no-result gives both teams one point each, leaving Pakistan at the top of Group A with six points from three matches. Australia have five points from three matches and Sri Lanka have five points from four.

Sri Lanka, who chose to bat after winning the toss, were recovering from a poor start, at 146-3 before heavy rain put a halt to action after 32.5 overs.

Kumar Sangakkara (73) and Thilan Samaraweera (34) were at the crease when play stopped, having added 71 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket stand.

With pools of water standing on the pitch, umpires Ian Gould and Tony Hill called off the match at the R Premadasa stadium.

“It’s a shame. It looked like it was going to be a terrific game. Sangakkara was controlling the match for them,” said Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.

“It would have been a tough wicket to bat on second. With their spinners it would have been a tough run chase.”

Sri Lanka, playing with three spinners in Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath, lost openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (four) and Upul Tharanga (six) by the seventh over.

Dilshan, who hit paceman Shaun Tait for a boundary off the first ball he faced, was out later in the same over, edging to slip where Cameron White held a simple catch.

Tait’s fellow new-ball bowler Brett Lee made it 31-2 when he had Tharanga caught stunningly off a searing drive in the covers by Steve Smith.

Mahela Jayawardne (23) helped Sangakkara add 44 for the third wicket, before he was run out, beaten by a sharp Smith throw from the covers at the non-striker’s end, trying to take a sharp single.

Sri Lanka next meet Zimbabwe at Pallekele on March 10, while Australia return to India where they play Kenya three days later. – AFP

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