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So (9) Australia were ranked just a spot above (10) Ireland in the T20 rankings, and this had a lot of people talking, smirking at a superficial assessment, that didn’t recognise ability or class. When they came out to play their first match of the World T20 against Ireland, they probably knew that they would win by 7 wickets in the end. What were you saying about their ranking?
On the field, David Warner couldn’t ignore what Niall O’Brien was telling him, it certainly wasn’t banter, as umpires Dharmasena and Dar soon read out the code to the Irish skipper, in an effort to bring the mercury down. The two Ws-Warner and Watson, then decided to let the bat do the talking, raining blows on Boyd Rankin and Trent Johnston, with the bowling more pedestrian, than lethal.
Porterfield read the signs, and brought in his changes, first Alex Cusack and then George Dockrell, with no immediate result, as David Warner brought up his 1000th run in T20 internationals off the former’s second over. Dockrell however enjoyed better luck, as he forced the left-hander to step out, with the ball flying towards Kevin O’Brien, who took a catch running towards the ball from deep midwicket. Take one Ireland.
Man-of-the-Match Shane Watson carried on with the job, putting the bad ball away for four and six, as and when the situation demanded. Paul Stirling did have a caught-and-bowled chance, but failed to grab it with both hands. Watson did. When it came in short, he pulled hard, getting his feet out of the way, soon bringing up a half-century with his third six, more than what eleven Irishmen managed when they had a bat in their hands. But in what came like an abrupt power cut, the all-rounder underestimated Trent Johnston’s throwing arm from short third man, with the throw hitting the bull in its eye, as Watson struggled to reach the bowler’s end.
His partner Michael Hussey, probably got too comfortable playing second fiddle, getting trapped lbw, pad first on off and middle. The scoreboard read 95/3, and it didn’t matter if Cameron White was dropped by Trent Johnston, a decent effort though for a 38-year old with ageing knees and no hair. White made full use of the providence, using the cross-bat to good effect, bringing up the winning runs with a lofted shot that saw the ball crossing the ropes at deep midwicket. The gloves came off as he shook hands with the man who succeeded him as T20 skipper- George Bailey.
Earlier, the Irish openers batted like schoolboys after winning the toss, taking the aerial route, failing to realise that they were falling for the bait. Skipper William Porterfield fell off the very first ball of the match, going for the hook, with Mitchell Starc’s long legs at long leg, helping his hands to do the rest. Right-handed Paul Stirling decided to try the same stunt in the same region, with Shane Watson getting his palms around the ball at third man. 15/2, Ed Joyce and Gary Wilson, the new batsmen at the crease.
They spent as much time at the crease as a fly would under a swatter, with Joyce hitting Maxwell to Warner at mid-off. Gary Wilson opened his account with a good-looking drive to deep extra cover for four, but four balls later, played across when he should have been playing straight to old chinaman Brad Hogg. Bad shot-selection resulting in a bad-looking scoreboard-33/4. Out come the O’Brien brothers- Niall and Kevin.
More than a fightback, it was the gaps that the brothers managed to find, that saw the greenhorns bringing up the highest partnership of their inning. But then all good things have to come to an end, Niall O’Brien played across to a slower delivery, only to find Shane Watson’s arms in the air, and his bails. Two balls later, his younger brother did himself in, trying the upper cut, only to find an edge that flew to glovesman Matthew Wade for keeps. Six wickets down, but no six yet in the inning.
Trent Johnston lasted just seven balls against the country of his birth, hitting a four, before being yorked by a Starc beauty. Australia’s best bowler- Shane Watson wasn’t at his best as he ran in to bowl the last over. Nigel Jones managed to pull a short ball for six, the first of the match, as the Irish milked 12 runs from the last six balls, to finish with a total of 123/7.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Irish were finished even before the Aussies started batting.
Beamer: Did Rankin know Australia's ranking?
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