Star quick Josh Hazlewood has helped set up Australia’s ruthless 10-wicket Twenty20 win to start the tour of Sri Lanka in imposing fashion.
Hazlewood again showed why he is one of the world’s best white-ball bowlers, taking 4-16 as Sri Lanka collapsed from 1-100 to be all-out for 128 in Colombo.
The 31-year-old silenced a packed crowd at the R Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday night, running through Sri Lanka with a three-wicket burst in the 14th over as the hosts lost 4-3, and 9-28.
Openers David Warner (70) and Aaron Finch (61) backed up Hazlewood’s dominance, powering Australia to 0-101 in the 12th over before heavy rain set in to force players off the field for almost an hour.
After play resumed, Finch guided a six to third man for the winning runs as Australia passed Sri Lanka’s total with 36 balls to spare.
“Josh was outstanding with the ball, he was very good through the IPL and he’s started well here,” Warner said.
“It was a great start, we had a couple of lead-in days with training and it’s very hot and humid over here.”
Finch was given out lbw in the first over but he successfully reviewed the decision, going onto carve out his best T20I score since March 2021.
The reigning T20 world champions crushed Sri Lanka, who are now being led by former England coach Chris Silverwood, despite the Lions making a promising start after Finch won the toss and bowled first.
Hazlewood began the rout by dismissing dangerous opener Danushka Gunathilaka (26) in the fifth over.
Gunathilaka’s opening partner Pathum Nissanka (36) combined for a 61-run stand with Charith Asalanka (38) as the pair looked comfortable at the crease.
Asalanka crashed a giant six into the scoreboard off Kane Richardson, and he was dropped on the boundary by Steve Smith.
But Hazlewood was brought back on to continue his dominance of Sri Lanka, after starring in Australia’s 4-1 series win on home soil in February.
Hazlewood’s transformation into a feared limited-overs bowler has been nothing short of extraordinary.
He missed selection in Australia’s 2019 ODI World Cup squad and seemed to have been pigeon-holed as a Test specialist.
But he was a leading figure as Chennai Super Kings won the 2021 Indian Premier League title and took that form into the T20 World Cup where he took 3-16 in the final.
Fellow quick Mitchell Starc cleaned up the tail, with two wickets in the 19th over to finish with figures of 3-26, despite splitting his index finger.
“They’ll assess (Starc) to see if he needs stitches, or if he can glue it up and be ready (for the next match) but I’m probably doubting that,” Warner said.
Australia and Sri Lanka will be back in action on Wednesday night in Colombo, before the final T20 takes place in Kandy on Saturday.