COLOMBO – Shane Watson produced a superb all-round display to ensure Australia opened their World Twenty20 campaign with a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Ireland in Colombo today.
After taking three wickets to reduce Ireland to only 123-7, all-rounder Watson then struck 51 from just 30 balls to see Australia to a comprehensive opening victory, which all but assures their place in the Super Eights.
Ireland were on the back foot from the very first ball of the match – captain William Porterfield suffering a disastrous start to the tournament as he pulled Watson straight to Mitchell Starc on the fine-leg boundary.
Left-arm quick bowler Starc claimed two wickets of his own as only the O’Brien brothers, Kevin and Niall, offered any real resistance after Ireland, who won the toss, had slumped to 33-4 in the eighth over.
The pair added 52 for the fifth wicket but Watson’s return in the 15th over saw Australia seize total control once more.
The medium-pace bowler snared Niall and Kevin in the space of four balls and, despite conceding 12 from his final over of the innings, still finished with fine figures of 3-26.
The Queenslander then immediately set about chasing down the below-par 124-run target, joining David Warner in an opening partnership worth 70 in just 43 balls.
Warner fell in George Dockrell’s second over having made 26, swatting the left-arm spinner straight to Kevin O’Brien when seemingly able to pick his spot.
Watson carried on the assault after his partner’s demise, launching Dockrell for two towering sixes over midwicket and reaching his half-century from only 25 deliveries.
He failed to see his side home when a combination of slack running and sharp fielding from veteran Trent Johnston saw him run out two balls after reaching his landmark.
Ireland refused to give up and Kevin O’Brien pinned Mike Hussey lbw for just 10, leaving it to Cameron White and George Bailey – captains past and present – to see the Aussies home with 29 balls to spare.
Australia will attempt to make it two wins from two in Group B when they play West Indies on Saturday and Ireland will then face the men from the Caribbean on Monday knowing they must win to keep their qualification hopes alive.