Daniel Brettig, in ESNcricinfo, 27 October 2019
A yawning victory for Australia, a pugilistic century for David Warner, Steven Smith not even required to bat? Do not adjust your browsers. ……………….. Australia 2 for 233 (Warner 100*, Finch 64, Maxwell 62) beat Sri Lanka 9 for 99 ( Shanaka 17, Zampa 3-14) by 134 runs
Aaron Finch‘s team set down a brutal marker for the start of their 12-month run to next year’s Twenty20 World Cup by swatting Sri Lanka aside with their highest-ever total on home soil and fourth highest overall, as the captain and a promoted Glenn Maxwell provided the perfect complement to Warner’s triumphant return home after a nightmarish tour of England.
Smith, the single biggest reason for Australia’s Ashes retention, was listed to bat at No. 3 but found himself demoted below Maxwell and Ashton Turner in recognition of their relative hitting power. But on a day where the bowlers followed up by holding the decidedly underwhelming visitors for a mere 9 for 99, in the process securing the home side’s biggest ever T20I winning margin and Sri Lanka’s biggest ever T20I defeat, the lack of reliance upon Smith augured well for the rest of Australia’s summer.
Warner’s century was surprisingly his first in T20Is, remarkable given his very first innings for Australia had been 89 against South Africa at the MCG more than a decade ago. In control of proceedings from the very start, he reached or cleared the boundary to all parts of Adelaide Oval, delighting a crowd of 16,268 who responded by giving Warner a consistently warm reception following his running battle with persistent booing and abuse in England.
Little less significant were the scene-setting innings of Finch – who had not passed 28 in a T20I since July 2018 – and the murderous finishing of Maxwell, leaving Sri Lanka’s captain Lasith Malinga with virtually nowhere to turn to for economy. The most punishment was reserved for Kasun Rajitha. Sri Lanka’s most parsimonious bowler in their recent, unexpected triumph in Pakistan, Rajitha was left wincing at the most expensive T20I figures, an eye-watering 4-0-75-0.
He will wonder, in years to come, how Sri Lanka came to be bowling first on what quickly flattened out into a perfect batting track – Malinga electing to send the Australians in on the basis that the tourists did not know what to expect from Adelaide’s drop-in pitch. Its even covering of straw-coloured grass should perhaps have been a giveaway, and after a handful of early plays and misses, Finch and Warner were able to punch their way to the off and leg side boundaries with something approaching impunity.
They were aided by some loose Sri Lankan bowling, summed up by how Rajitha offered Warner a wide no-ball that was sent scurrying to the backward point boundary and then a free-hit of obliging line and length that was smote well and truly into the western stands. None for 57 from the powerplay, strong as it looked for Australia, proved to be only a foretaste of the carnage to follow in a temperate afternoon.
Finch and then Warner took turns to dominate in an opening stand worth 122 from 65 balls, including 112 from the first 10 overs of the innings. Finch may have been a tad frustrated to see his innings ended at 64 by a top edge to Lakshan Sandakan, but there was soon the reward of seeing Maxwell mix power with invention in the manner that has always made him one of the world’s most compulsively watchable cricketers.
All up, no fewer than eight of the innings’ 20 overs went for more than 12 runs, a ledger that thrust Australia inevitably to the tallest tally of all their T20I matches at home, surpassing the 221 fetched against England at the SCG as far back as January 2007.
Warner, having lost Maxwell after a union worth 107 from a mere 52 balls, scrounged a single from the final ball of the innings to reach three figures and celebrate in his customary, leaping manner. Amid all the scoring, some credit was due to Nuwan Pradeep’s figures of 0 for 28 from four solid overs.
So overpowering was the Australian batting display that Sri Lanka always looked unlikely to get close to their target. Nevertheless, the procession of visiting batsmen was rapid, as Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa all enjoyed their work. Of particular interest to Australia’s planners was Cummins’ comfort bowling first-change, whereupon he claimed two victims in as many balls, and the considerable economy of Agar, who mixed his pace and lengths handily against batsmen determined to dance down to him.
Otherwise, though, this was a day for Warner, Finch and Maxwell, and the rare chance for Smith to experience a quiet, uneventful afternoon at the cricket.