Australia moved to the top of the Cricket World Cup ladder overnight with an 87-run win over Sri Lanka, but not everything went to their liking. Here is everything you need to know from the overnight action.

Steve Smith's quest for perfection

The former Australian skipper churned out a half century against Sri Lanka this morning — his third for this World Cup and eighth score of 50 or more in his past 10 World Cup innings — but Steve Smith was a hard man to please.

The 30-year-old cracked 73 off 59 balls and shared a 173-run third-wicket partnership with captain Aaron Finch at The Oval and there were plenty of moments to marvel at.

But among the batting artistry were clear signs Smith's pursuit of perfection means he'll rarely be completely content. In London, the returning star was absolutely filthy with the most minor errors that cost him on the scoreboard.


Facing the finger spin of Milinda Siriwardana in the 31st over, Smith glided a cut shot straight to backward point and was furious with himself for not splitting the two men behind square on the off side and picking up a boundary. He shook his head, gesticulated with his hands about how he should have manipulated his bat and walked a few paces towards the square leg umpire to chastise himself.

In the same over he drove a half volley to deep cover-point for a single but didn't hit it anywhere near the middle of the bat. Again, Smith's face said it all. His head rocked back in regret and he stretched his right arm out, signalling he should have opened the face to slice it behind the man on the boundary to increase the odds of coming back for a second run.

Steve Smith of Australia walks off after being dismissed against Sri Lanka. Photo / Getty
Steve Smith of Australia walks off after being dismissed against Sri Lanka. Photo / Getty

Smith's inner angst didn't escape Mel Jones while she was commentating for BBC radio.

"Steve Smith's a brilliant player but he should never play poker," Jones said. "You know exactly what he's thinking."

Everyone at the ground knew Smith was upset he'd missed out on four runs when he punched a drive straight to cover off Thisara Perera in the 34th over. He gestured once more with his right arm, upset he hadn't avoided the fielder and beefed up his tally.

Smith changed tack slightly and waved his left arm to express his frustration when he got a thick inside edge to an attempted slog over mid-wicket in the 38th over but he can't have been too angry when he was bowled by a perfect Lasith Malinga yorker a handful of overs later. If he couldn't keep that delivery out, few others in the world would have stood a chance.

But it says something about his hunger as a batsman and intensity at the crease that every slight blip — of which there were so few — still riled Smith up. The man is obsessed with batting and is hellbent on being better.

- James Matthey of


Australia go top

Australia moved past the Black Caps to the top of the Cricket World Cup standings after beating Sri Lanka by 87 runs at the Oval.

Captain Aaron Finch lost the toss again and was made to bat first, but he spearheaded Australia's effort by equaling his career-best 153 in a total of 334-7.

Aaron Finch celebrates his century during the Cricket World Cup 2019 match between Australia and Sri Lanka at The Oval. Photo / Photosport
Aaron Finch celebrates his century during the Cricket World Cup 2019 match between Australia and Sri Lanka at The Oval. Photo / Photosport

Counterpart Dimuth Karunaratne tried to inspire his side the same way, but after he was out for a career-best 97 in the 33rd over, Sri Lanka collapsed. From 186-2 to 247 all out in 45.5 overs, Sri Lanka's last eight wickets fell for 61 runs.

Mitchell Starc took 4-55, Kane Richardson 3-47, Pat Cummins 2-38 and Jason Behrendorff, making his World Cup debut in place of Nathan Coulter-Nile whose back stiffened up, claimed a wicket.

Australia's fourth win from five matches lifted it above New Zealand and England to lead the tournament halfway through its group stage matches.

Warner's touching gesture

David Warner has presented the net bowler he put in hospital for three days with a signed Australian shirt.


Warner smashed a drive back into local bowler Jay Plaha's head at training last Saturday, as the Aussies prepared for their match against India at The Oval.

"It was unfortunate, but we're extremely grateful for the guys coming in and bowling to us," Warner said.

"Obviously workloads stop us from facing our own bowlers sometimes but to come in and roll the arm over and unfortunately get hit was sad.

"It was a real shock to us but now he's recovering he said he's back on his feet and will be bowling in six weeks."

The scary incident halted Australia training for 20 minutes as Plaha was slowly loaded into an ambulance and taken to hospital.

It left Warner, and some of his teammates, visible rattled as they watched on.


Plaha's CT scan of his brain came back clear but he didn't walk for two days. He suggested net bowlers wear helmets in the future.

South Africa finally win

Afghanistan won't forget its first one-day international against South Africa after a spectacular collapse at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.

Put in to bat, Afghanistan was all out for 125 in 34.1 overs after collapsing from 69-2. Two rain breaks reduced the game to 48 overs with the DLS method slightly adjusting the winning target for the South Africans, who chased down the required 127 with nine wickets to spare to claim their first win of the tournament.

The 40-year-old spinner Imran Tahir did most of the damage, finishing with 4-29 off seven overs. He also preserved his record as the only spinner at this World Cup to have bowled more than 100 overs and not been hit for a six. Afghanistan struck 15 boundaries but no sixes.

Seamer Chris Morris was even meaner than Tahir, taking 3-13 in 6.1 overs, and Andile Phehlukwayo finished with 2-18 from eight overs.

Quinton de Kock (68) and Hashim Amla (41 not out) added 104 for the first wicket as the Proteas chased down the total with nine wickets and nearly 20 overs to spare.


South Africa next prepare to play the Black Caps in Birmingham on Wednesday.

South Africa's Imran Tahir celebrates taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Asghar Afghan. Photo / Getty
South Africa's Imran Tahir celebrates taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Asghar Afghan. Photo / Getty

West Indies star's controversial Cup continues

West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite has received an official reprimand and received a demerit point for breaching Level One of the ICC Code of Conduct during the West Indies' loss to England.

Brathwaite breached Article 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to showing dissent to an umpire's decision.

The incident occurred in the 43rd over of the West Indies innings when Brathwaite made his displeasure at being given out clear to the umpires.

Brathwaite admitted the offence and accepted the sanction, continuing a controversial World Cup, after he had earlier called the umpiring 'frustrating and dodgy' after the West Indies' loss to Australia.

"Every time we get hit on our pad, the finger goes up," Brathwaite complained.


"When we hit the opposition on their pad, the finger stays down. So we have to use our reviews and it's always missing and then we have to use our reviews when we're batting as well and it's always clipping.

"I'm not a technology person, I don't know why that happens, I can just say what I have seen happen over the past few years."

Odds to make the semifinals

England $1.05
India $1.08
Australia $1.08
New Zealand $1.33
West Indies $3.00
Pakistan $5.50
South Africa $10
Bangladesh $21
Sri Lanka $34
Afghanistan $251

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':