T20 WC: David Warner cashes in on let-off in easy Australia win
Australia raced to their second successive win in the T20 World Cup, handing Sri Lanka their first Super 12 defeat with a seven-wicket win at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday. The win was powered by David Warner’s 42-ball 65, having come into the game woefully short of runs. Warner had spent much of IPL out of Sunrisers’ playing eleven, even out of the dugout, sitting desolately in the overflow area. The team had first stripped him off captaincy. A World Cup winner playing cheerleader holding the franchise flag didn’t make a pretty picture.
But the southpaw insisted before this game that he didn’t feel out of form in the nets. It didn’t look so when the innings began and he got some streaky fours. But something seemed to click for him when he punched the final ball of the fourth over, by Lahiru Kumara, which produced 20 runs, down the ground. There were many boundaries in that over but none more emphatic and important from a personal point of view for Warner. In the next over, Warner had a huge slice of luck he desperately needed. Wicket-keeper Kushal Perera dropped a sitter that had lobbed up off a mishit pull, when Warner was on 18. He didn’t look back after that fifth over let-off. Australia took the fastest lane on the freeway in the powerplay, racing ahead to 63/0.
At the other end, Australia captain Aaron Finch kept going all guns blazing. The faster Dushmantha Chameera bowled, the farther he dispatched him. It was Finch’s attacking approach that gave Warner the opportunity to pick and choose his boundaries. That’s what Warner kept doing once the field was spread out, finding room and smacking hard.
Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga found turn in the middle overs. He wasn’t landing all his deliveries on the right length, but was getting it to grip on the surface. Finch (37) first and then his IPL team-mate Glenn Maxwell (5) fell to him. At 82/2 after 9, Sri Lanka had a tiny opening. But their seamers were struggling big time and Warner kept cashing in. After he was dismissed (65-42b, 10x4), Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis finished the innings in 17 overs.
The Sri Lankan batting had the ebb and flow of a typical T20 innings—the top order with their recently discovered free-flowing ways getting ahead in the powerplay; Australia squeezing the run-flow with spin and high pace in the middle; Sri Lanka finding momentum again at the death.
Dubai than Sharjah has offered more turn in the tournament and leg-spinner Adam Zampa made the most of it to check the Sri Lanka batters. They had raced to 53 runs in six overs with the field in. Zampa, sporting a new hairdo, used subtle variations with different releases with an odd googly thrown in. He got the dangerous looking Charith Asalanka 35 (27b) and Avishka Fernando (4). When Zampa came on to bowl, Sri Lanka were motoring along on 75/1 after nine overs. By the time he was done with his spell (4-12-2), they were down to 97/5 after the 14th over.
The game’s moment of magic though was provided by Mitchell Starc. Kusal Perera with his Jayasuriya-like short back-lift was striking some classy boundaries. The 11th over was all drama. Perera deposited a Starc full ball for six over long on. Starc, coming round the wicket with the left-armer’s angle, responded with a high paced full pitched in-swinging yorker, and Perera was too late to react.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa 33* (26b) gave some impetus to the innings at the death, 43 runs coming in the last four overs.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 154/6 (K Perera 35, C Asalanka 35, B Rajapaksa 33*, M Starc 2/27, P Cummins 2/34, A Zampa 2/12); Australia 155/3 in 17 ovs (A Finch 37, D Warner 65, W Hasaranga 2/22). Australia won by 7 wkts.