Josh Hazlewood starred as Australia made an excellent start to its tour of Sri Lanka, winning the first Twenty20 by 10 wickets on Tuesday.
Australia, the T20 world champion, was chasing a modest target of 128 at R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo and got home with six overs to spare to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. It was Australia’s third 10-wicket win in its T20 history.
Sri Lanka had got off to an excellent start. After scoring 50 for one in the six overs of power play, Charith Asalanka (38) and Pathum Nissanka (36) extended their second wicket stand to 61 runs and the host was looking set to post something in the range of 160 runs.
Mitchell Starc, who was expensive earlier on, broke the stand when Nissanka was cleaned up by a yorker.
Hazlewood then picked up three wickets in an over to reduce Sri Lanka to 103 for five as the host lost four wickets for two runs in the space of 13 deliveries.
Australia was excellent in the field and that multiplied Sri Lanka’s miseries as there were two run outs. The host lost its last nine wickets for 28 runs.
Hazlewood hardly put a foot wrong and finished with four for 16 in his four overs during his man-of-the-match performance. Starc claimed three for 26.
“It was quite hot out there and the wicket was slow," Hazlewood said. “We bowled well as a group and the result shows. The plan was to bowl back of a length. After those first few overs, we managed to pull things off.”
Openers Aaron Finch and David Warner were involved in a 134-run stand for the first wicket as Australia cruised to a big win in front of a sold out crowd of 28,000. Finch had been given out leg before wicket to Maheesh Theekshana in the third ball of the innings. But the captain successfully overturned the decision.
Australia scored 59 runs in the power play, picking up boundaries comfortably as the bowling wasn’t penetrative.
Warner reached his half-century in 32 deliveries and was unbeaten on 70 with seven boundaries while Finch, who reached his fifty in 37 balls, finished on 61 with four fours and four sixes.
“With the ball when Josh is bowling those consistent lines we know how tough it is," Finch said. “We wanted them to take risks and it worked for us today. Pretty happy with my performance too. It was nice to have a partnership with Davy. It was a really good performance by us overall.”
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka faulted his team’s batting.
“Our batting failed miserably. It’s the first game of the series and hopefully we would be able to bounce back," he said. "We have been losing wickets after getting good starts. It puts us under immense pressure leading into the next game. I guess one win will give us confidence and help us to compete well.”
The second game of the series is at the same venue on Wednesday with teams moving to Kandy for the finale. The T20s will be followed by five ODIs and two tests.