Australia made the opening statement it was looking for in pounding Ireland by seven wickets in the World Twenty20 on Wednesday.
Shane Watson spearheaded the Australians by taking 3-26 then hammering a brisk 51 off 30 balls, as they scored 125-3 with nearly five overs to spare in chasing down Ireland’s modest 123-7 before a sparse crowd in R. Premadasa Stadium.
The cricket world had a little laugh at Australia earlier this year when it was overtaken briefly by Ireland in the T20 rankings. This made the first ever match between the teams a real test for Australia to prove that its No.9 ranking, just one above Ireland, did not reflect its real strength.
”We knew how important it was to be able to make a statement today, more than anything (else),” Watson said.
”We know with the quality of talent we have in our group, if we are at our best we are certainly going to be a challenge to the best teams in the world. Today was the first step along that way.”
”We know with the quality of talent we have in our group, if we are at our best we are certainly going to be a challenge to the best teams in the world”
Australia’s Shane Watson
Ireland captain William Porterfield said they were let down by the batting, as defending around six runs per over on a good pitch was too much for the bowlers to defend.
Porterfield didn’t help his side when he won the toss and elected to bat first and was dismissed on the first ball of the match. He tried to hook a Watson bouncer but ended up only top-edging the ball for an easy catch at deep fine-leg by Mitchell Starc.
Watson and Starc were involved again in the dismissal of Paul Stirling when Ireland’s total was 15. The batsman sliced the ball against Starc, the left-arm seamer, and was well caught by Watson at third man.
Ed Joyce tried to lift the ball over the infield against offspinner Glenn Maxwell but found David Warner at mid-off on 16. Left-arm chinaman bowler Brad Hogg broke through with his second delivery trapping Gary Wilson lbw for 5 in the eighth over.
At 33-4 Ireland was precariously placed, then brothers Kevin (35) and Niall O’Brien (20) combined for 52 to help set up a decent total.
Kevin hit five boundaries during his 29-ball innings and Niall made 20 off 24 balls before Watson dismissed both in the 15th over, bowling Niall and, three balls later, having Kevin caught by wicketkeeper Mathew Wade.
Kevin O Brien top-scored for Ireland with 35. Starc gave Watson good support in returning 2-20.
Australia got off to a good start reaching 60 before losing Warner in the eighth over for 26. He was caught by a diving Kevin O’Brien off left-arm spinner George Dockrell.
Watson hit three sixes and five boundaries in his entertaining knock until he was run out to a brilliant direct hit from Trent Johnston.
Australia had lost two wickets for four runs when Mike Hussey departed with the total on 95, but it was too late for Ireland to recover.
On the mend
Five South African players have fallen ill but are expected to be fit for the team’s first Twenty20 World Cup match against Zimbabwe on Thursday, the Proteas team manager said.
“We have a few guys who’ve gone down with viral infection, vomiting and diarrhoea but I am happy to say that they are on the mend,” team manager Mohammed Moosajee said on Wednesday.
“I am hopeful come tomorrow, all 15 will be fit to take the field,” he said while declining to identify the players struck
On Monday, three members of New Zealand’s World Twenty20 team – Tim Southee, Rob Nicol and Daniel Vettori – went down with stomach trouble.
While Vettori recovered sufficiently to travel with the team from Colombo to Kandy, Southee and Nicol had to delay their departure by a day to recover from the illness.
New Zealand open their World Twenty20 campaign at Pallekele on Friday against Bangladesh.