McDermott, Zampa, Hazlewood help Australia beat Sri Lanka by 20 runs; take 1-0 lead in 5 match series
Brief Scores: Australia 149/9 (McDermott 53, Stoinis 30, Hasaranga 3/38, Fernando 2/12) beat Sri Lanka 122/8 (Nissanka 36, Chandimal 25*, Hazlewood 4/12, Zampa 3/18) by 20 runs (DLS method)
Australia made easy work of Sri Lanka in the first of a five-match T20I series between the two teams that kicked off on Friday at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka won the toss and decided to field first on a sluggish track at the SCG. The decision was enforced by predictions of rain which did make an appearance but Sri Lanka’s performance was below par to get any help from the weather gods.
Australia handed a debut cap to the English origin wicketkeeper-batter, Josh Inglis. Inglis was part of Australia’s T20 World Cup 2021 squad as well but this was his first game in yellow. Australia skipper Aaron Finch strolled out to the middle with a new opening partner, Ben McDermott. McDermott made hay in this year’s BBL as he topped the run charts with two centuries in the season. In addition to this, the home team fielded their full-strength bowling attack with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa in their ranks.
Australia make sedate start
The Aussie openers started carefully before Maheesh Theekshana almost had Finch trapped in front trying to lap sweep him. Sri Lanka reviewed but the DRS showed that it was umpire’s call on impact. Finch looked scratchy as he missed another straight delivery by Fernando. Australia were 21 for none at the end of the first four overs.
Hasaranga’s first over and the innings’ fifth one proved to be an eventful one. The first delivery was deposited over deep mid-wicket by McDermott, a real drag down from the Sri Lanka spinner. Finch missed a straight one just a few balls later and his scratchy stay at the crease came to an end. His search for another big score continued though.
Out came the debutant, Josh Inglis who looked comfortable against the spinner, deploying the cut and reverse sweep to his advantage at times. McDermott, on the other end, flexed his arms as he got used to the wicket’s pace and bounce. This is when rain made its first appearance as we had a 15-minute delay.
Play resumed and McDermott took no time to get going, tonking Dushmantha Chameera for a maximum over square leg. The two combined to add fifty runs for the second wicket from just 34 deliveries. Inglis looked good and innovative in the middle until his creativity got the best of him. The wicketkeeper batter lost his stumps as he tried to get cheeky in trying to reverse sweep Karunaratne over short fine leg.
Hasaranga takes a three-fer as Australia end on 149/9
Out strolled Glenn Maxwell who holed out straight to deep square leg. An innocuous loopy full toss that got to him slower than he expected. His demise brought out Steve Smith to the crease, who ticked along nicely before missing a straight one from Hasaranga.
Karunaratne struck shortly and dismissed a well-set Ben McDermott who made a fifty on his return to the Australian side. This brought about the end of a great bowling phase for the visitors that saw them picking up four batters for just 27 runs.
Australia were 107/5 around the 14th over mark before Marcus Stonis took over. The big all-rounder took on the Sri Lankan bowling attack and struck a couple of lusty blows to set up a big finish. The game took a 180-degree turn when Matthew Wade sliced one towards square leg in a bid to up the ante and collect some quick runs. The Sri Lankan skipper pulled out a blinder jumping full stretch to his left. Stoinis was gone the very next ball as he chopped one back onto the stumps.
Australia's famed lower order couldn’t do much damage as the home team finished with an under-par 149/9.
Sri Lankan Chase that never took off
The host’s chase started on a sluggish note when Danushka Gunathilaka tried to drag Hazlewood on towards the mid-wicket region in the second over. He found Stoinis at short mid-wicket and Sri Lanka were 3/1.
Pathum Nissanka looked the man for Sri Lanka after he decided to take on Starc, collecting 12 runs from the third over in the process. Avishka Fernando looked to join in on the action as well, hitting his first ball for six off Cummins. The party only lasted up until that point as Cummins struck the very next ball. Fernando looked to go big again and was undone by Cummins' pace and bounce.
Out came Charith Asalanka and the scoreboard ticked along. The southpaw went after Starc in the ninth over collecting two boundaries. Starc’s figures read none for 28 after three. All the fun came to an end when Zampa came back for his second over and 11th of the innings. The first ball went for a four but he had his revenge almost instantly.
With the required run rate climbing, Sri Lanka had to go after the Zampa but the leggie was just too good. Nissanka went for a slog sweep and top-edged one straight to Starc at long-on. Asalanka was gone just a few balls later trying to take on the longer boundary at deep mid-wicket. The leggie would have had his third of the over had Wade collected the ball cleanly and enforced the stumping. Sri Lanka were reeling at 75/4 at the end of the thirteenth over.
Wickets continued to tumble for SL as Hazlewood took four-fer and Zampa completed a three-fer
Zampa didn’t have to wait for his third wicket for long as Hasaranga miscued one straight to the man at covers. Rain made another brief interruption for 10 minutes but play resumed quickly. Hazelwood struck twice again in the very next over, bagging the Sri Lankan skipper and Karunaratne.
Dinesh Chandimal came in late and struck a couple of blows but that was more about reducing the margin of the victory rather than anything else.
The Australian pair of Zampa and Hazlewood were exceptional, with seven wickets between the two. Australia now lead the five-match series 1-0 and Sri Lanka will hope for a better performance in the second game at the same venue on February 13, if they are to challenge the Australians in their own backyard.