Australia v Ireland, World T20 2012, Group B, Colombo September 19, 2012

All-round Watson knocks down Ireland


Australia 125 for 3 (Watson 51) beat Ireland 123 for 7 (Kevin O'Brien 35, Watson 3-26, Starc 2-20) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A commanding performance from Shane Watson delivered a handsome opening World Twenty20 victory for Australia over Ireland, as George Bailey's team showed aggressive intent to pursue the one trophy missing from the national team's display cabinet.

Ireland had fancied their chances of upsetting Australia, but were left with their odds of progression diminished and their ears ringing from a few verbal barbs delivered by opponents in no mood to be accommodating to a team they had briefly been ranked below on the ICC's T20 rankings earlier this month.

Watson influenced proceedings from the first ball of the match, a bouncer Ireland's captain Will Porterfield hooked to fine leg. He returned to the bowling crease to snuff out a mid-innings revival, then smashed 51 to ensure a modest chase that never assumed anything more than nuisance dimensions.

Mitchell Starc and Hogg also delivered telling spells to help keep Ireland quiet, their 20 overs devoid of sustained momentum save for a rearguard stand of 50 between Kevin and Niall O'Brien from the depths of 33 for 4. Kevin O'Brien hinted at the mastery he had shown against England in the 2011 World Cup, but both he and his brother were out-thought by Watson in the same over.

Aside from Watson's all-round prowess, the other hallmark of Australia's display was their aggression, manifested in a series of verbal stoushes with their opponents. The umpires intervened more than once, and no-one was left in any doubt about the Australians intent to make life as uncomfortable as possible for their opposition.

Australia's pursuit needed to be dogged by early wickets for Ireland to have a chance, but Watson and David Warner played with plenty of sense. They were helped by a wayward Boyd Rankin, who gave away four wides on the way to conceding 12 runs from the third over. Trent Johnston was taken for 19 in the fourth, and from that moment the result never seemed in any great doubt.

George Dockrell accounted for Warner, who punched to deep midwicket, and Paul Stirling almost grasped a one-handed return catch from Watson. Having failed to take the half chance, both Stirling and Dockrell were to feel the brunt of Watson's power, Australia's vice-captain posting a half century from his 28th ball. An overly languid run through to the non-striker's end was punished by Johnston's direct hit, but by then Watson had done more than enough to put victory within sight and also underline his importance to Australia's campaign.

Michael Hussey was lbw to Kevin O'Brien, and Cameron White offered a difficult chance that Johnston put down off Rankin, leaving Australia to conclude their chase with less certainty than Watson and Warner had started it.

Watson had taken the new ball for Australia, a move Ireland's captain Porterfield would have noted from the warm-up games. What he did not expect was a first-ball bumper, as Watson tested the bounce to be extracted from a flint-hard Premadasa pitch. The ball was well-directed, Porterfield's hook shot was hurried, and Mitchell Starc sauntered in from fine leg to take the catch.

There were runs to be found in the pitch, Stirling cracking the final ball of the over to the cover fence to prove it, but Australia's bowlers were sharp and varied enough to prevent Ireland from finding any sort of rhythm. Starc found a little swing but it was bounce that did for Stirling, his top edge sailing high for Watson to make a testy running catch look routine.

Bailey introduced Maxwell's off-breaks for the sixth over, and was rewarded when Ed Joyce toe-ended a drive to mid off. Brad Hogg's introduction followed, and he too struck in his opening over when Gary Wilson played around a delivery pitching in line and straightening to win Aleem Dar's lbw verdict. None of Ireland's batsmen looked entirely capable of reading Hogg's variations.

Ireland were stuck in the T20 predicament of early wickets, the halfway point passing at a wobbly 46 for 4. The brothers O'Brien were left to fashion a salvaging partnership, Kevin O'brien hinting at his potential for destruction with a handful of boundaries. He responded to taunts from the Australian fieldsmen by clattering Starc through midwicket and cover, and the 50-stand was raised. But Niall O'Brien was unable to follow suit, bowled by Watson's slower ball when trying to heave across the line.

Watson was delivering a keynote spell, and he made it more so by coaxing Kevin O'Brien to touch a shortish, sharpish delivery on its way through to Matthew Wade. Called on to deliver the last over of the innings as well as the first, Watson allowed the innings' only six to Nigel Jones, but the concession of 12 from the final six balls still left Australia's batsmen with a chase they were always likely to negotiate in some comfort.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Randolph on September 20, 2012, 23:40 GMT

    I love how the poms try and claim scots as their own. Can you imagine us claiming a Kiwi. Laughable.

  • Ryan on September 20, 2012, 23:03 GMT

    @ Hammond "@RyanSmith all I can say is we'll see" Yes, that is all you can say because there is no evidence that the youngsters here are terrible. Especially when compared with England's! The fact a 38 year old Steve Waugh was playing in the Australian side didn't mean that once he left, the Aussie's wouln't go on to whitewash an Ashes series 5-0 a few years later or that they wouldn't go on to equal a record 16 straight test wins. So having old players in the team is proof of nothing except that someone that old wants to keep playing AND that they are good enough to. If our youngsters are that bad, why have we got a 19 yr old starting for us in the T20 world cup? At least we were able to win a game against SA in our most recent test series against them, with said 19 yr old (who was 18) running through Amla, Kallis, Smith, De Villiers and co.

  • associate cricket fan on September 20, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    @Pappu_bhai. Without kohli current indian team is as strong as Afganistan only as the t20 match against Afganistan has proved it.

  • sharks on September 20, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    @Marcio Yeah Ind got beat up in those 2 series last year and I wont even attempt to argue that the teams performance was abysmal to say the least, but judging our team's outside performance on those 2 series alone is wrong. Just like yours, our team also won in WI, NZ, SL and drew the series against SA, infact we had the 3rd test almost won but the brilliance of Kallis rescued SA. The point is we lost in Eng yes, you did in odi too n most prob. will lose in tests too against them in Eng in the upcoming Ashes. Eng knows they are going to be thrashed by India later this year in tests, we already got our revenge in ODI's by thrshing them 5-0 last year. Again, we lost in Aus, yes, but you know yourself that your team's fate isnt going to be any different later this year.

  • matt on September 20, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    Australian fans why is Steve O'Keefe not in the Australian side the guy is a very good spin bowler an excellent batsman but yet everybody seems to over look him what a waste of talent in all forms of the game.

  • Geoffrey on September 20, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    @seniorgators- mate no-one is perfect. Still I will take England number one in odi's and T20's and second in tests (by 3 points) any day. Makes me smile constantly ;)

  • Jon on September 20, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    @A_Yorkshire_Lad- it can't really be all that bad if you think that we finished 3rd in the olympics which is essentially the biggest sporting event in the world. I do agree with you though that there is an attitude that exists where sporty children are not given the same backing at schools as musical or academic kids. Having lived in both Oz and UK I must say that the Aussie school sport is better in terms of funding, planning etc. However the problem with Aus sport seemed to lie in geographical locations. There were plenty of talented kids who were not prepared to travel the great lenghts to represent their state sides etc and they were dismissed. English sport in private schools is run very well but the problems lie in state schools. I hope with the olympic success teachers will no longer place higher priority on music and focus on sport. Who cares about music anyway if there is a game to be played?

  • Rayner on September 20, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    Think the Aussie's laid into the Irish with the sledges a bit much, fair enough against a test playing nation but not a minnow. Guess they have to pull out every possible trick to ensure a win, shame the Afgans weren't in this group, they look like they'd thrash the Aussies.

  • sam on September 20, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    Pretty convincing display by the Aussies .Only chance for the Irish to even have a semblance of an upset was for Aus to have a really bad day or on a minefield sort of a surface where the match result is a lottery irrespective of the diff in class between the sides and in a low scorer the luckier side wins.Aus were up and ready,were very potent with ball and in field.Watto took care of what needed to be done with the bat.Aus will take the points but will definitely take note of areas to improve as tougher tests lie ahead.Irish were a disgrace(almost) not only to an elite comp but also to the minnow nations taking part.This was totally clueless and meek display(although task was cut out),much better was expected.This game also expose those who were boasting of their test status when they have virtually done nothing in ODI/T20 in so many games against Test sides.Only big win was with Pak,win over an ordinary England nothin to shout of.ICC should dismiss them,give chance to Kenya,etc.

  • Geoffrey on September 20, 2012, 12:12 GMT

    @ScottStevo- I'm not anywhere near being a pom mate. @RyanSmith- all I can say is we'll see, if the young blokes are that good why is a 42 year old bowling for us in the T20 world cup, and why is Ponting still playing in the test side? @rickyvoncanterbury I felt all the glory mate last ashes especially at Brisbane when England were 1/517 and all the crowd bar the Barmy Army left after paying all that money. Absolute Gold!

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