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SL v Aus 1st T20I Review: Maxwell’s comeback heroics help Australia crush Sri Lanka

Australia Glenn Maxwell
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell (L) and Usman Khawaja (R). (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia have had a bag full of mixed results on the tour so far. They looked miserable in the Tests and were thoroughly outplayed by the hosts Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan spinners spun a vicious web around the Australian batsmen. However, the visitors came back strong in the ODI series and turned the tables back on the hosts. A thumping 4-1 win certainly covered up for their below par Test performance.

The T20 series began and it was all about bragging rights for both the sides. A few faces made a comeback to the shortest format and some were left out. The action moved to Pallekele for the first of the two T20Is. The match undoubtedly belonged to just one man – Glenn Maxwell. The attacking batsman made a great comeback to the international arena after being ignored from the ODI setup earlier.

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Coming into the match, the same old story perspired at the toss. Sri Lanka managed to win the toss but called it wrong again. They put Australia into bat first. Little did they know about what was coming their way. For the Aussies, Glenn Maxwell made a comeback while Sri Lanka roped in the services of Kasun Rajitha and Sachithra Senanayake.

Maxwell walked in with David Warner as the makeshift opener in absence of injured Aaron Finch. They took the Sri Lanka bowling apart in the power play, racing to their 50-run stand. Senanayake broke the partnership in the 5th over when he got rid of David Warner on 28 off 16 balls (5 fours). In walked Usman Khawaja, who had been struggling all along the tour.

Also check out – Twitter Reactions: Glenn Maxwell scores 145* to power Australia to highest T20I score

However, it wasn’t about Khawaja in the middle anymore. Glenn Maxwell took all the limelight and started playing a blend of sweeps and reverse sweeps for huge maximums. The counter attack saw Australia escalate to 73/0 by the end of the powerplay. Maxwell soon brought up his half century and Khawaja started to ease in as well. They put 97 runs in just 51 balls for the 2nd wicket before Khawaja hit one straight to long off fielder off the bowling of Sachith Pathirana.

Travis Head walked in to replace Khawaja at the crease. Meanwhile, the Big Show was busy clobbering the bowlers to all parts of the ground. For a brief while, he gave a serious threat to break the record for the fastest T20I century. He could not break the record but definitely reached the landmark soon enough. Maxwell rocketed to his maiden T20I ton in the 16th over when he pulled a waist-high no-ball off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal for a couple of runs. He became the 3rd Australian to score a T20I ton.

A jump in the air and a fist pump said it all for the comeback man. It took him 49 balls to reach his century. Head joined in the attack as well and it was carnage of first degree at Pallekele. All balls seemed to head just one way – to the ropes.

Head missed out on his half century and was dismissed on the last ball of the innings. His-18 ball 45 was studded with 4 fours and 3 sixes. The man of the moment, Maxwell, remained unbeaten on 145 of 65 balls with 14 fours and 9 sixes. In the process, Australia had registered the highest score in T20Is ever, 263/3.

Sri Lankan openers, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera, walked into the middle for an uphill task. Much to the disappointment of the home fans, both openers departed cheaply. Dilshan was bowled by Mitchell Starc in the first over on 4 while Perera became Scott Boland’s victim in the 2nd over on 4. Dhananjaya de Silva (12) didn’t last long either and was castled by James Faulkner in the 5th over.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis did not let the fall of wickets affect their game and led the counter attack, scoring 56 in the powerplay. Mendis’s 13-ball 22 (2 fours, 2 sixes) was halted by Moises Henriques in the 8th over. Thisara Perera joined Chandimal at the crease. Sri Lanka managed to put on 93/4 by the end of 10 overs.

Perera’s run-a-ball 7 was ended by Adam Zampa soon to bring Chamara Kapugedara at the crease. Meanwhile, Chandimal brought up his half century in 37 deliveries but it was a little too late for the hosts. He departed after scoring 58 off 43 balls with 6 fours and a six. Boland was the beneficiary. Kapugedara’s resistance of 25 balls yielded 43 runs before he was dismissed by Starc in the 19th over.

It was only matter of formality from thereon as Sri Lanka ended on 178/9 in their 20 overs and thereby losing the first game by 85 runs. Boland and Starc bagged 3 wickets each.

Brief Scores:

Australia – 263/3 in 20 overs (Maxwell 145*, Head 45; Pathirana 1/45, Senanayake 1/49)

Sri Lanka – 178/9 in 20 overs (Chandimal 58, Kapugedara 43, Boland 3/26, Starc 3/26)

Watch: Highlights of Glenn Maxwell’s unbeaten 145

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdK2FILjH2Q

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