Shane Watson inspired Australia to a straightforward seven-wicket victory over Ireland in their opening World Twenty20 group match in Colombo today.
The 31-year-old all-rounder took three wickets for 14 runs and, despite bowling a poor final over, helped restrict Ireland to 123 for seven.
Watson then took to the crease where his 51 runs off 31 balls helped Australia secure victory in just the 16th over of the Group B match.
The comfortable win also saw fellow opener David Warner become the third cricketer to hit 1,000 runs in international T20 cricket, following Kevin Pietersen and Brendon McCullum.
Ireland won the toss at Premadasa Stadium and captain William Porterfield chose to bat – a decision he would rue immediately as he hooked Watson’s ball straight to Mitchell Starc to go for for a duck.
Things did not get much better for the minnows as the pair swapped roles to get Paul Stirling out in the fourth over, before Ed Joyce was caught by Warner.
Gary Wilson followed suit after being caught leg before by Brad Hogg to leave Ireland 33-4 two balls into the eighth over.
They responded well, though, and picked up the run rate thanks to the partnership of brothers Kevin and Niall O’Brien (35 and 20).
However, Watson nipped that in the bud by getting them both out in the 15th over to leave Ireland 86 for six.
Trent Johnston was next out but Watson bowled an expensive final over to see Ireland end on 123 for seven.
That score was no match for the Antipodeans, though, as Warner racked up 26 runs – and a T20 milestone – before being caught from a George Dockrell delivery.
It took until the 11th over for opening partner Watson to get out, but he had already hit five fours and three sixes during a mesmeric spell by the time he was thwarted by excellent fielding from Johnston who threw down the stumps.
Mike Hussey went for 10 shortly afterwards, but Cameron White and George Bailey produced a sturdy partnership to Australia through to victory.