Combined bowling efforts from Zampa and Starc tied Sri Lanka down to 154 for 6
Australia 155 for 3 (Warner 65, Finch 37, Hasaranga 2-22) beat Sri Lanka 154 for 6 (Perera 35, Zampa 2-12) by seven wickets
Zampa finished with fine figures of 2 for 12, while Starc’s pace accounted for Kusal Perera, Sri Lanka’s joint top-scorer alongside Asalanka, and the dangerous Hasaranga. Some resourceful batting from Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped repair some of the damage, as Sri Lanka managed to set a target above 150 – but it was not enough to stretch Australia, who became the 13th side out of 17 to win batting second in Dubai this year.
The Zampa and Starc Show
Legspin and pace – always an exciting combo, and two of the weapons of choice in T20. Sri Lanka had recovered well from the early loss of Pathum Nissanka, with Asalanka and Perera racing during a second-wicket partnership worth 63 before Zampa made the breakthrough in the 10th over. Sri Lanka have the worst record against legspin since the last World Cup, among all teams in the Super 12 stage, and Asalanka’s dismissal slogging against the turn of a googly precipitated a middle-order collapse.
In the next over, Starc responded to being slammed for six over long-on by sending a searing yorker through Perera’s defences and into the base of leg stump. Avishka Fernando top-edged at attempted slog-sweep off Zampa and Hasaranga was then caught behind attempting an expansive drive against Starc, as Sri Lanka lost 4 for 16 in the space of 17 deliveries to put Australia on top.
Openers find form
Australia have kept faith with Finch and Warner at the top of the order, despite their slim recent returns – and that faith was repaid handsomely, as the experienced opening pair took advantage of a sloppy Sri Lanka start with the ball to reach 63 without loss after six, the highest powerplay score in all T20 World Cups.
Defending what was roughly a par score batting first on this ground, Sri Lanka needed early wickets. But Chamika Karunaratne’s first over was loose, twice going short and wide to allow Finch to cut fours – with those two boundaries, Australia’s captain had already raised his highest score in seven T20I innings in the UAE. And with the ball coming on nicely under lights, he took on the extra pace of Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera, ramping the former over third and then lofting a straight six, before another four off Chameera brought up Australia’s 50 in the fifth over.
Warner has been in even worse nick, but he reverse-scooped a boundary in Theekshana’s exploratory over and rode his luck on the way to his highest score since making 85 not out for Sunrisers Hyderabad almost a year ago. He should have been dismissed on 18, after gloving Chameera behind, but Perera dropped a simple chance and Warner drew on all his experience to produce the goods when needed.
More to follow..
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick