COLOMBO: Reigning world champions Australia sealed a dominant 10-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the first T20 International in Colombo on Tuesday after fast bowler Josh Hazlewood took four wickets and their openers comfortably chased a modest target.
Pursuing 129 for victory, Australian captain Aaron Finch (61 not out) and David Warner (70 not out) struck an unbeaten opening partnership as the visitors wrapped up the match with six overs to spare after the game was twice delayed by rain.
Cricket Australia announced before the match that fast bowler Sean Abbott, who was in their T20 squad, would return home after breaking a finger in the nets.Earlier, Hazlewood ran through Sri Lanka to limit them to a modest 128 all out after Finch won the toss and chose to bowl.
Hazlewood took three wickets in the 14th over and triggered Sri Lanka’s middle-order batting collapse to give the visitors an easy-looking 129 to win the first of three T20s.
The in-form pacer finished with an impressive 4-16 in his four overs and took the wickets of Danushka Gunathilaka (26), Kusal Mendis (1), Bhanuka Rajapaksa (0) and captain Dasun Shanaka (0).
Hazlewood was well supported by his new ball partner Mitchell Starc who removed opener Pathum Nissanka for 36 off 31 balls before cleaning up the hosts’ lower order to finish with 3-26 in his four tight overs.
Sri Lanka’s top three batters gave the hosts a slow but steady start and took the team to 100 for two in the first 12 overs.
None of the top three — Nissanka, Gunathilaka and Asalanka — was able to stick around to top up the score in the closing overs on a slow, rain-hit Colombo outfield.
Starc dismissed Wanindu Hasaranga, who tried to lead a lower order fightback with a 15-ball 17, as well as Dushmantha Chameera (1).
The other Australian bowlers supported the pace duo and bowled some tight lines to keep Sri Lankans in check.
Pace bowler Kane Richardson took one for 22 in his 3.3 overs while spinners Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell bowled six wicketless overs between them.
The hosts lost Asalanka and Chamika Karunaratne to run outs and were bowled out three balls short of their allotted 20 overs.
The second T20 will be held on Wednesday followed by the third on Saturday. The teams will then play five ODIs and two Tests during the tour, which ends on July 12.
Pathum Nissanka b Starc 36
Danushka Gunathilaka c Marsh b Hazlewood 26
Charith Asalanka run out 38
Kusal Mendis c Agar b Hazlewood 1
Bhanuka Rajapaksa c Wade b Hazlewood 0
Dasun Shanaka lbw b Hazlewood 0
Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva c Finch b Starc 17
Chamika Karunaratne run out 1
Dushmantha Chameera c Warner b Starc 1
Maheesh Theekshana c Warner b Richardson 1
Nuwan Thushara not out 0
EXTRAS (W-7) 7
TOTAL (all out, 19.3 overs) 128
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-39 (Danushka Gunathilaka), 2-100 (Pathum Nissanka), 3-102 (Kusal Mendis), 4-103 (Bhanuka Rajapaksa), 5-103 (Dasun Shanaka), 6-116 (Charith Asalanka), 7-118 (Chamika Karunaratne), 8-127 (Dushmantha Chameera), 9-128 (Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva), 10-128 (Maheesh Theekshana)
BOWLING: Starc 4-0-26-3 (3w); Hazlewood
4-0-16-4; Marsh 2-0-21-0; Maxwell 2-0-18-0; Richardson 3.3-0-22-1; Agar 4-0-25-0
Aaron Finch not out 61
David Warner not out 70
EXTRAS (W-3) 3
TOTAL (for no wicket, 14 overs) 134
DID NOT BAT: Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Josh Hazlewood
BOWLING: Theekshana 4-0-25-0 (1w); Thushara
2-0-21-0 (2w); Chameera 4-0-48-0; Hasaranga de Silva 2-0-27-0; Karunaratne 2-0-13-0
RESULT: Australia win by 10 wickets.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Josh Hazlewood
SERIES: Australia lead three-match series 1-0.
Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2022