Australia moved into second place in Pool A with a 64-run win over Sri Lanka on Sunday in a result that should mean the four-time champions avoid a detour to New Zealand during the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Glenn Maxwell scored his first one-day international hundred and Shane Watson posted a career-reviving 67 in a 160-run stand after Steven Smith (72) and Michael Clarke (68) shared a 134-run third-wicket partnership to steer Australia to 376-9, the highest total ever against Sri Lanka at the World Cup.
The Sri Lankans chased bravely after losing Lahiru Thirimanne (1), with Kumar Sangakkara (104) scoring his third consecutive hundred and surpassing 14,000 career runs in ODIs and sharing a 130-run partnership with Tillakaratne Dilshan (62).
Australia moved to seven points, three behind unbeaten New Zealand and one clear of Sri Lanka with only a one pool match remaining against second-tier Scotland.
It wasn’t a day for the bowlers, with both attacks taking punishment.
Clarke won the toss and chose to bat in ideal conditions but was at the crease quickly with Smith when Australia slipped to 41-2.
The third-wicket pair led the recovery, lifting the total to 175 before both fell within five balls.
Clarke scored a run-a-ball 68 in his first decent innings since hamstring surgery in December before he was bowled by a perfect yorker from Lasith Malinga (2-59) in the 32nd over. Smith skied an attempted drive off Dilshan toward long-off, where Thisara Perera held a well-judged, running catch.
That’s when the fireworks started for Australia, with Maxwell belting 102 from 53 balls — narrowly missing a World Cup record for the fastest hundred — in the 160-run stand with Watson, who was out in the penultimate over chasing quick runs.
Maxwell’s hundred came off 51 balls — one shy of the record — but he did have some luck on 93 when wicketkeeper Sangakkara chased a thick edge off Angelo Mathews’ bowling but couldn’t glove the catch.
After running two to reach triple figures, he gave Watson a long hug beside the pitch.
“It’s a big relief … to get it out of the way,” said Maxwell, who scored 11 half-centuries in his previous 44 ODIs. “Hopefully it’s the first of many.”
His innings contained 10 boundaries and four sixes before he hit a poor full-toss from Perera (2-87) to Malinga at mid-on to spark a late flurry of wickets, including three in the last seven balls.
The Sri Lankans were on target for the first half of the innings, with Sangakkara and Dilshan in aggressive form. The pair belted 31 runs in eight balls in one sequence, with Dilshan smacking Mitchell Johnson (2-62) for six consecutive boundaries in the sixth over. Both eventually fell to allrounder James Faulkner (3-48), with Dilshan trapped lbw to end the partnership and Sangakkara eventually caught in the deep after facing 107 balls.
He was hit on the inside of the right heel by a full yorker from Mitchell Starc (2-28) on 99 and hobbled for the rest of his innings. With the run-rate creeping above 10 per over, the chase took a toll on Sri Lanka and eventually got beyond them. Dinesh Chandimal retired hurt on 52 in the 41st over with what appeared to be a leg injury.
Sri Lanka, runners-up in 2007 and 2011, hasn’t beaten Australia at the World Cup since winning the 1996 final.