Australia stroll to Victory at the Gabba

Andrew Fidel Fernando, in ESPNcricinfo, 29 October 2019

At least there were no unwanted records this time. At least the team total broke through to triple figures. And at least two batsmen made more than 20. Having been thumped by 134 runs on Sunday, these were the only minor improvements for Sri Lanka in the second T20I. Yet again, however, they were emphatically outplayed from the very beginning. A slow start, replete with regular wickets, coalesced into a total of 117 all out by the end of the 19th over. An imperious Australia then flew to their target with nine wickets in hand, and 42 balls remaining.

Australia 118 for 1 (Warner 60*, Smith 53*) beat Sri Lanka 117 (Kusal Perera 27, Zampa 2-20, Stanlake 2-23) by nine wickets

  Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins celebrate Avishka Fernando’s wicket Getty Images

As had been the case on Sunday, David Warner led Australia with the bat, reeling off 60 not out off 41 balls, while Steven Smith hit 53 not out off 36 in his first international innings on home soil since the ball-tampering ban. But it had been Australia’s intense bowling and fielding effort that defined the game, Billy Stanlake [playing in place of the unavailable Mitchell Starc], Pat CumminsAshton Agar and Adam Zampa all took two wickets apiece.

Kane Richardson was the only bowler to go wicketless, but it was he and Stanlake, who together set the tone with the new ball, conceding no more than nine from the first three overs of the innings – the pressure they built also producing the run out of Kusal Mendis. Although Sri Lanka threatened to break the shackles soon after, with Danushka Gunathilaka hitting a four and an outrageous scooped six in Stanlake’s next over, they never really managed to unhook Australia’s claws from their flesh. By the end of of the Powerplay, Sri Lanka were 36 for 2 – Stanlake having bowled Gunathilaka in the final over of the field restrictions.

The middle overs were even more difficult for Sri Lanka as, while repeatedly failing to find the boundaries that might defibrillate the innings, they also lost Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera and Dasun Shanaka for 22 runs in the space of 22 deliveries. At 6 for 75, they were in serious danger of falling short even of their total of 99, from Sunday.

In the end, some modest contributions from the lower-order batsmen, who batted with a mix of resignation and desperation, managed to push Sri Lanka to a less embarrassing score. But on a surface that always seemed full of runs – the reason why Lasith Malinga opted to bat first – this was nevertheless a glaringly meagre total.

Aaron Finch nicked Malinga down the leg side third ball to depart for a duck, but that was about as difficult as the chase got for Australia. Smith leapt into T20 mode with successive fours off Nuwan Pradeep in the second over, first sending him scorching past point, before clipping him over midwicket.

Warner didn’t score a boundary in his first ten balls, but when that first one came, also against Pradeep, the fours arrived in a torrent. The fifth over, bowled by Wanindu Hasaranga, went for 17 runs, as Warner slapped, cut and bludgeoned him for four boundaries, three of which were consecutive. By the time the Powerplay was done, Australia were almost halfway there, at 58 for 1.

There were occasional close calls. Warner could have been run out for 55 in the 11th over had Lakshan Sandakan hit the stumps direct. Pradeep raised a confident lbw shout next over, also against Warner, but the ball was shown to have pitched outside leg stump. But the game had long since slipped by Sri Lanka by then.

Australia now go to the third match, in Melbourne, having sewn up the series – the first time in four attempts they’ve beaten Sri Lanka in a T20I series at home. Sri Lanka’s wildly unpredictable year continues.

Leave a comment

Filed under Andrew Fidel Fernando, Australian cricket, performance, Sri Lanka Cricket, T20 Cricket, tower of strength

Leave a Reply