All-round show by Watson as Aus beat Ireland by 7 wkts

All-round show by Watson as Aus beat Ireland by 7 wkts

All-round show by Watson as Aus beat Ireland by 7 wkts

Shane Watson produced a solid all-round performance as Australia launched their campaign in the ICC World Twenty20 with a seven-wicket thrashing of Ireland here today.

Chasing a modest target of 124, the Aussies romped home in only 15.1 overs with the opening duo of Watson (51) and David Warner (26) having set the tone by adding 60 runs in the first seven overs in the opening Group B encounter at the R Premadasa Stadium.

Watson's 51 came off 30 balls with help of five boundaries and three huge sixes. By the time he got run out at his team's total on 91, the result had become a mere formality.

Watson had earlier scalped three Ireland wickets for 26 runs -- including the wickets of O'Brien brothers Kevin and Niall --  from his four overs as Australia restricted their opponents to 123 for seven.

The target was never a problem for the formidable Aussies as Watson started the onslaught in the fourth over which was bowled by Trent Johnston. After hitting the pacer for three boundaries, Watson flicked him over deep square leg for his first six.

The second six off Paul Stirling went over deep mid-wicket boundary. But the stand-out shot certainly was the one Watson hit off left-arm spinner George Dockrell to bring up his half century. The batsman rocked back and muscled it into the deep mid-wicket stands. The ball rebounded off the balcony of the upper tier of the stadium.

Watson's 50 came off only 28 balls. He was run-out immediately after that but not before he had taken his side on the verge of victory.

Earlier, it was due to a 52-run fifth wicket stand between Niall and Kevin O'Brien that Ireland managed a total in excess of 120 after opting to bat. They were reeling at 33 for four at one stage.

While Kevin scored 35 off 29 balls with five fours, Niall managed 20 off 24 balls with two boundaries.

Australia were off to a perfect start when Watson removed Irish opener William Porterfield with a bouncer. The left-handed opener tried the hook shot but the ball ballooned up for Mitchell Starc to take a simple catch at deep fine-leg.

The other opener Paul Stirling (7), during his 12-ball stay, tried to smash each and every delivery. Finally, he slashed hard at an angular one from Starc and Watson returned the favour by taking a well-judged catch in deep third-man.

Former England international Ed Joyce hit three boundaries but never looked like being in control of the situation. His frustration got the better of him when Glenn Maxwell came to bowl his friendly off-breaks. Joyce, who had scored 16, could not clear David Warner at mid-off.

With 25 for three even before the sixth over was completed, George Bailey's boys had complete command over the situation. Soon it became 33 for four when Gary Wilson was adjudged leg before when he padded a flipper from left-arm spinner Brad Hogg. The O'Brien brothers then got together.

While Niall was happy to play the second fiddle, Kevin decided to take on the bowlers. He started with a couple of fours off Hogg. But the stand-out shot was a lovely drive through extra cover region off Dan Christian's bowling.

When Starc came for his second spell, Kevin launched into the left-arm seamer, pulling him for his fourth boundary. The fifth one came when he created room to smash one through the off-side cordon.

Watson then struck decisive blows coming in for his second spell. Niall missed the line of a fuller delivery while Kevin got one that took off and he only edged it to Mathew Wade behind the stumps. Suddenly from 85 for four, Ireland were reduced to 86 for six. It was Nigel Jones who chipped in with an unbeaten 14 to take Ireland past 120. 

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