David Warner’s unbeaten 90 was not enough to propel Australia to victory as Sri Lanka beat the hosts by five wickets in the first Twenty20 International yesterday to go 1-0 up in the two-match series.
Shot-making was not easy on the drop-in pitch at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, but Warner blasted an unbeaten 62-ball 90 in a brilliant display of controlled aggression to power Australia to 137-3.
Kushal Perera (33) — making his international Twenty20 debut — and captain Angelo Mathews (35 not out) shone with the bat for Sri Lanka before Thisara Perera (19 not out) clobbered back-to-back sixes to see the visitors home with seven balls to spare.
Melbourne hosts the second and final match tomorrow.
Australia were 53-3 off nine overs after opting to bat first on a tricky surface before Warner added 84 in 11 overs with Adam Voges (25 not out) to give the bowlers a decent total to defend.
The hosts lost opener Aaron Finch (1) in the second over when Kushal took a diving catch at short cover after Nuwan Kulasekara had induced a thick leading edge.
Shaun Marsh (6) was run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan’s direct throw while Australia captain George Bailey (11) did not last long either, leaving the onus on Warner to put up a fighting total.
The Aussie opener hit Kulasekara for a boundary to bring up his 50 before hitting Mathews for a four and a six in an eventful over in which Kulasekara dropped him at mid-wicket.
Kulasekara was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with 1-21 from his four overs.
Lasith Malinga was also impressive, conceding only 19 runs in his four-over spell.
In contrast, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start with openers Kushal and the experienced Dilshan (16) adding 46 before departing in successive overs.
Dilshan was soon in his element, bending down to play an audacious “Dilscoop” off Mitchell Starc that sailed over the wicketkeeper’s head for six.
Two overs later, the right-hander sustained a nasty cut over his right eye, but batted on with a bandaged eyebrow until Ben Laughlin ran backwards to take a spectacular diving catch to dismiss him.
Glen Maxwell removed Kushal and Dinesh Chandimal to trigger a mid-innings collapse, but Mathews stayed put while Thisara struck successive sixes off Laughlin to wrap up the win.
The Sri Lankans are now guaranteed to retain their No. 1 Twenty20 ranking regardless of what happens in tomorrow’s match.