Aaron Finch finds form, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood star
Australia has started its tour of Sri Lanka in perfect fashion, crushing the hosts by 10 wickets in the T20 opener on Wednesday morning (AEST).
The usual suspects were at it, with Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and David Warner all dominating in Colombo.
But it was a sorely-needed half-century for under-fire captain Aaron Finch that will please Australia most, along with the big win.
Scroll down to see how every Australian fared.
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AARON FINCH — 9
61 off 40 balls
Well, that’s more like it. There was a sinking, familiar feeling after just three balls for Finch. He played all around the third ball of the innings to Maneesh Theekshana and the umpire’s finger went up. Replays showed there was a thin inside edge and the rest, as they say, is history. There were still some nervy early moments as expected, but with a six off Dushmantha Chameera at the end of the fourth over, Finch was away. It’s always been a game of fine margins, after all.
DAVID WARNER — 9.5
70 off 44
Another dominant display from the opener who will be thanking his lucky stars he wasn’t runout after some confusion with Finch in the third over. Warner survived and went about dismantling Sri Lanka’s spin duo of Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga brilliantly. Later, he was hitting Chameera for four with his eyes closed (literally) then ramping him over the keeper for four more. A minor blemish in the innings was that Pathum Nissanka dropped a sitter in the covers when Warner was on 56 — but the damage had well and truly been done. Gets an extra 0.5 mark for a great diving catch that ended Sri Lanka’s innings.
MITCH MARSH — 3
0-21, economy 10.50
Australia’s World Cup hero didn’t get a chance to bat thanks to Finch and Warner’s unbeaten stand.
With the ball, he sent down two overs with his first, inside the powerplay, an expensive one. Marsh bowled the third over and was hit for 14 runs as Danushka Gunathilaka took him to task. His economy rate of 10.50 was the most expensive of Australia’s bowlers.
STEVE SMITH — N/A
One of the few players in this match that didn’t bat or bowl, but it’s worth mentioning his brilliant runout of Chamika Karunaratne after the first rain delay. It made up for a drop on the boundary in the 10th over, although it was a tough chance. Nonetheless, we’ll spare him a grade from a quiet night.
GLENN MAXWELL — 4
0-18, economy rate 9.00
Like Marsh, Maxwell didn’t get the chance to bat and bowled two overs. His first was also relatively expensive in the powerplay, as he was hit for two boundaries with his first three balls. But it was a solid bounceback from there with Maxwell’s remaining nine balls of the night going for nine runs.
MARCUS STOINIS — N/A
Stoinis was able to put his feet up for the night. He didn’t get to bat or bowl.
MATTHEW WADE — N/A
It’s not often that a wicketkeeper is the one throwing the ball in a runout, but Wade pulled that off on the night with a sharp piece of fielding. In truth, the chance was partly created by him misfielding the ball in the first place, but he quickly whipped off his glove and ranout Charith Asalanka at the bowler’s end to pile on the pain for Sri Lanka. Between that and a simple caught behind off Josh Hazlewood’s bowling, Wade had two dismissals for the night.
ASHTON AGAR — 6.5
0-25, economy rate 6.25
In the XI as Australia’s spin specialist, Agar wasn’t a major wicket-taking threat but helped turned the screws in the middle overs after a hot Sri Lanka start. His third over — the 13th of the innings — deserves special mention. Mitchell Starc had just taken a breakthrough wicket at the end of the 12th over, and Agar piled on the pressure by conceding just two runs in the following set. The next over, Hazlewood was taking three wickets in six balls. Agar didn’t come away with the wickets but shouldn’t be ignored for his contribution in that game-changing period.
MITCHELL STARC — 9
3-26, economy 6.50
A wide with his first ball, and two in the first over, you couldn’t help but wonder what Starc Australia was going to get on the night. Five wides in the 12th over, followed by a Nissanka four, and things weren’t looking good. Then everything changed. The turning point was a slower ball yorker that was right on the money, dismissing the set batter Nissanka for 36 off 30. The wickets tumbled elsewhere after that key wicket, while Starc came back later to dismiss Chameera and Hasaranga in the space of three balls, before bowling three more dots. In the end, Starc finished with an excellent 3-26 for his troubles.
KANE RICHARDSON — 7
1-22, economy rate 6.28
Similar to Starc, Richardson’s spell was a tale of two halves. He was hit for two boundaries with his first three balls, and 18 runs from his first eight as Sri Lanka kept finding the ropes. But Richardson was tidy from there, and was unlucky to not take a wicket in his second over when Smith dropped Nissanka on the boundary. Richardson eventually got in on the act by taking the final wicket of the innings.
JOSH HAZLEWOOD — 10
4-16, economy rate 4.00
What a bowler. What a performance. You would have been laughed out of the building if you said T20 cricket would become Josh Hazlewood’s most dominant format a few years ago, but here we are. The 14th over of the first innings was the game’s defining moment. Sri Lanka had started well with the bat, but Hazlewood turned the game on its head by taking 3-1 in a clinical display. Comfortably the player of the match.