DUBAI: Mitchell Starc bowled the "ball of the tournament" as Australia engineered a mid-innings collapse but couldn't stop Sri Lanka from posting a decent 154 for 6 in a group league match of the ICC T20 World Cup here on Thursday.
Starc (2/27 in 4 overs) bowled a brilliant comeback delivery in the form of a vicious inswinging yorker after being hit for a six which saw the end of Kusal Perera (35 off 25 balls) as Sri Lanka lost four quick wickets for 16 runs to slump to 94 for 5 from a relatively strong 78 for 1 in little under three overs.
Bhanuka Rakaspakse (33 not out off 26 balls), then launched into Australian attack's weak-link Marcus Stoinis (0/35 in 3 overs) to get Sri Lanka somewhat back on track which looked improbable after Starc's second spell.
However Perera and last match's hero Charith Asalanka (35 off 27 balls) added 63 runs in little over seven overs to set up the platform.
Asalanka was the first to get off the blocks when he slog-swept Glenn Maxwell over deep mid-wicket for a six and also swept behind square for a boundary. He then got another four off Josh Hazlewood's bowling before Perera also joined the fun.
He smacked Starc for a six over long-on in his signature typical 'Sanath Jayasuriya style' but the left-arm speedster then bowled one that jagged back late and landed in the blockhole at a good pace. Perera couldn't even bring his bat down before it disturbed the stumps.
Before that, Asalanka had been dismissed by leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who easily was the most influential bowler on a good batting track with astounding figures of 2/12 in 4 overs. He bowled 12 dot balls which is equivalent to two overs without a single run being scored.
It was because of Zampa that Sri Lanka despite some great shots in between didn't get the requisite momentum during the those middle overs. Add to it he and Starc shared the spoils to make it difficult for opposition batters. It was Rajapakse's four boundaries and a six that lent muscle to their score in the end.