Warner makes birthday ton as Australia crush Sri Lanka in T20

27 October 2019 01:10 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Things could barely have been scripted better for David Warner. Playing his first international on Australian soil since the ball-tampering scandal, Warner blasted an unbeaten century - on his 33rd birthday no less - as Australia crushed Sri Lanka in the international season opener, a performance the Aussies will hope sets the tone for a big year of Twenty20 international cricket culminating in next year's World Cup on home soil.

In front of an underwhelming crowd of 16,268 on a sunny afternoon in Adelaide, the tourists were stooges for the dominant Aussies, who made Sri Lankan captain Lasith Malinga pay for electing to bowl after winning the toss.

It was a move straight from the Nasser Hussain playbook and went about as well as the former English skipper’s decision to send the Aussies in at the start of the international season at the Gabba back in 2002.

So in control were the Aussies that Steve Smith - irreplaceable and irrepressible during this year’s Ashes - was surplus to needs.

Smith didn’t get a bat as Warner, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell clubbed the Sri Lankan attack around Adelaide Oval en route to a total of 2-233 from their 20 overs. It was Australia’s highest T20 international total at home, eclipsing the 5-221 made against England in Sydney in early 2007.

Sri Lanka’s right-arm paceman Kasun Rajitha was a lamb to the Australian slaughter. The Aussies plundered 75 runs from his four overs, making it the most expensive spell in T20 international history. Turkey’s Tunahan Turan, the previous record-holder, can again rest easy.

The tourists never looked like getting close in their chase. Mitchell Starc broke through early while Pat Cummins was on a hat-trick in the fourth over, leaving Sri Lanka reeling at 3-13. From that point only the margin was in question. Sri Lanka finished 9-99, making it Australia's heaviest T20 international win in terms of runs (134).

The day however belonged to Warner. After an ordinary Ashes series and mixed start to the Australian domestic season, he again took advantage of home comforts, hitting 10 fours and four sixes before bringing up his century from 56 deliveries off the final ball of the innings, duly celebrated with his trademark leap into the air.

He was warmly received throughout the afternoon, with the only clear smattering of boos coming after he lost the strike in the final over when a century was within striking distance.

Remarkably, this was Warner’s first T20 international century, coming more than 10 years after he burst onto the scene with a 43-ball knock of 89 against South Africa on debut at the MCG.

Warner and Finch (64 from 36 balls) took the game away from Sri Lanka by putting on 122 for the first wicket. Captain Finch had been enduring a lean run in T20Is and played and missed a few times early in his innings. But between false shots Finch repeatedly found the cover boundary. Then in the eighth over of the innings Finch pinned back the ears, hitting spinner Wanindu Hasaranga for consecutive sixes on either side of the wicket.

Finch and Warner both reached their half-centuries in the 10th over, delivered by the hapless Rajitha.

Finch was caught in the deep off the bowling of left-arm wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan the following over but if anything that only accelerated the destruction for Sri Lanka as Maxwell was elevated to No. 3 above Smith.

Showcasing a more open batting stance, Maxwell (62 from 28) played a host of inventive shots, including some delightful ramping. He creamed Rajitha for consecutive sixes to finish the 18th over, consigning the bowler to the record books.

Sri Lanka had done themselves few favours, with former Australian quick Jason Gillespie describing the tourists lines and lengths as “pretty ordinary” on ABC radio.

Ashton Agar dropped a couple of catches during the chase but that mattered little.  Most of the bowlers got in on the act, while a Maxwell cannon caught Hasaranga short, as none of the Sri Lankan batsmen reached 20.

The tourists will need a dramatic turnaround if they are to keep the series alive at The Gabba on Wednesday night.

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