Marcus Stoinis smashed an unbeaten 59 off 18 balls to power Australia to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka and reinvigorate their Twenty20 World Cup defence on Tuesday.
Chasing 158 for victory, the hosts needed Stoinis’s rapid-fire knock to achieve their target with 21 balls to spare in Perth and bounce back from their opening-day hammering to New Zealand.
Stoinis brought up his fifty in 17 balls, the fastest for an Australian in a T20I.
Next up for the hosts are old rivals England on Friday in Melbourne. Australia now have one win and one defeat from their first two games in the Super 12 stage.
“Once I got in, the plan was just to keep going,” said the 33-year-old man-of-the-match Stoinis, who is from Perth.
“To be honest, I was really nervous today being at home in Perth with lots of family and friends here, but really happy we put on a bit of a clinic today.”
The Australians looked in a spot of bother at 89-3 but Stoinis came out all guns blazing to smash four fours and six sixes.
Skipper Aaron Finch, who made a laboured 31, looked a mere bystander in the unbeaten 69-run stand with Stoinis, who made the match his own.
Charith Asalanka had made an unbeaten 38 to guide Asian champions Sri Lanka to 157-6, a total that looked competitive until Stoinis arrived on the scene to devastating effect.
“We have to give Stoinis credit, the way he came in and played was exceptional,” said Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood.
“He showed how much power he had and obviously made life very difficult for us.”
Sri Lankan pace bowler Binura Fernando left the field in the first over of Australia’s chase as the island nation feared for another addition to their already long injury list at this tournament.
But the fast bowlers kept the Australian openers in check and spinner Maheesh Theekshana got the big wicket of David Warner on his first ball after the left-hander gave away a catch to the fielder at cover.
Mitchell Marsh took stock and then attempted to break free with a four and six off Wanindu Hasaranga, but his extra aggression got him caught at long-off for 17.
Glenn Maxwell hit back with fours and sixes before he survived a nasty bouncer from Lahiru Kumara — the ball caught his throat but after help from the physio the Australian got gingerly back on his feet.
Ashen Bandara dropped Finch but soon made up for it with a good catch at the boundary rope to help dismiss Maxwell for 23.
But the joy was shortlived as Stoinis took the game away from Sri Lanka with his bludgeoning knock.
Sri Lanka, who came through the first round, have also won one and lost one in the Super 12.
They face New Zealand next.
– Asalanka stands firm –
Australia elected to bowl first and replaced Covid-hit Adam Zampa with Ashton Agar in the team which lost their opener to New Zealand by a hefty 89 runs.
Sri Lanka looked in trouble at 120-6 in the 18th over but the left-handed Asalanka’s 25-ball knock helped put up a fighting total.
Pathum Nissanka (40) and Dhananjaya de Silva, who made 26, put on 69 runs to lay the foundations for the total but Sri Lanka slipped midway by losing wickets.
They lost their sixth wicket in Hasaranga, but Asalanka stood firm and put on an unbeaten stand of 37 with Karunaratne, who made 14.
The pair smashed Pat Cummins for two fours and a six in a 20-run final over to finish with a flourish.
Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Agar and Maxwell took one wicket each. (AFP)