A lone hand from Australia’s Twenty20 poster boy David Warner was not enough to ensure Australia victory against Sri Lanka.
The brutal lefthander showed there was a big gap from international cricket to the Big Bash by scoring 90 not out of Australia’s 3-137 before 40,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.
Sri Lanka responded with 5-139, winning with seven balls to spare after Thisara Perera hit consecutive sixes to end the match. Acting captain Angelo Matthews top-scored with 35 not out.
Australia has a chance at redemption with the second Twenty20 match in Melbourne on Monday.
The Australia Day crowd was almost 20,000 below what India attracted to the corresponding game on February 1 last year but still significantly higher than any one-day crowd during the recently completed five-match series against Sri Lanka.
The best one-day crowd was 27,000 at the MCG, however the biggest white ball crowd in Australia this summer remains the 47,000 who attended the Melbourne Big Bash derby between Shane Warne’s Stars and the Renegades.
Clubbing all but one of the boundaries in Australia’s innings last night, Warner excelled as the Big Bash heroes chosen to bat around him struggled to do any more than construct picket fences of scrambled singles.
He faced just 62 balls, hitting five fours and three sixes as he batted through the innings on a slow pitch.
The one shot of note from Warner’s team mates last night came when captain George Bailey drove a perfectly straight six in his 11 from nine balls.
Sri Lanka’s chase began well enough when veteran Tillakaratne Dilshan played his famous scoop over the head of wicket-keeper Matthew Wade for six off Mitchell Starc in the second over.
But the tourists started to unravel from about the time Dilshan was hit in the helmet by a short ball from Ben Laughlin and went down with a cut over his right eye, holding up play for some time.
Scoring dried up and Laughlin rubbed salt into the open wound by running back at point to take a brilliant diving catch off Dilshan (16) after he miscued a charge against Xavier Doherty as Australia’s spinners claimed the first four wickets.
Kushal Perera had played with freedom for his 33 from 22 balls but was caught behind cutting at Glenn Maxwell’s third delivery of the innings.
Wicket-keeper Dinesh Chandimal (5) was tempted by the particularly short ANZ Stadium straight boundaries and lost, caught at long off by Ben Cutting taking on Maxwell.
Former skipper Mahela Jayawardene’s miserable tour continued when he played all around a full delivery from Doherty to be bowled off his pads for eight.
Doherty, who opened the bowling, finished with 2-21 from his four overs and Maxwell 2-15 from three overs.
It was a bizarre batting performance from Australia losing just three wickets, with big hitters Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell left padded up on the boundary.
In the corresponding game last year Wade made 72 from 43 balls opening the batting.
Having failed in the opening two one-day matches of the summer, Aaron Finch (1) played another muddled shot as he charged Nuwan Kulasekara in the second over of the match and was caught at cover from a leading edge.
The Big Bash’s most prolific run scorer, Shaun Marsh, fiddled around for six from 17 balls as he struggled to adjust before suffocating under the accumulated pressure and running himself out.
Following Bailey’s short interlude Adam Voges scratched out 25 not out from 29 balls but was unable to left the tempo late in the innings, putting extra pressure on Warner.
“I was (difficult to hit boundaries) Voges said. “I think Davey was playing on a difficult wicket to the rest of us.
“They bowled really well at the death so we just had to scramble as best we could.”
Australia may have made the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka three months ago but that was largely on the back of brilliant all-rounder performances from a now injured Shane Watson.
Generally Australia’s Twenty20 cricket has been mediocre, as Bailey freely admitted before the match.
The selectors made six changes from that World T20 squad with only Warner, Bailey, Wade, Mitch Starc and Xavier Doherty surviving from the semi-final, although Maxwell also played most of the tournament. (Herald Sun)