Australia, who were inserted into bat, ended up with a record-breaking score of 263 for 3, and the bowlers backed it up by running through the heart of Sri Lanka’s top-order to complete a fine all-round show. The hosts needed a rollicking start to mount a serious challenge, but once they lost three wickets in the first five overs of the innings, it was always going to be a tall order for them to chase down the target.
Dinesh Chandimal (58) played with a sense of maturity, but he had too much to do. Chamara Kapugedera (43) launched lusty blows in the slog overs, but by then, the outcome of the game was a foregone conclusion.
Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc shared three spoils each, but it was Adam Zampa, who arguably was the best bowler of the day. On a flat pitch, Zampa blended sliders with tossed up deliveries to keep the batsmen guessing and was rewarded with the scalp of Thisara Perera.
Earlier, Maxwell electrified the Pallekele stadium by bludgeoning a 49-ball century to propel the visitors to an imposing total. The 27-year-old, who was opening the innings for the first time in his T20I career, razed the Sri Lankan attack to the ground. It was a knock where Maxwell played with an uncluttered mind and seemed to be following an unwritten manual of batsmanship. Even the home crowd revelled in Maxwell’s pyrotechnics.
It was in the second over of the innings that David Warner (28) decided to up the tempo by unfurling a couple of boundaries off Suranga Lakmal. Sachithra Senanayake then beat the left-handed opener with a well-flighted delivery to castle him. However, it turned out to be a lull before the storm as Maxwell explored every nook and corner of the ground to take the game away from Sri Lanka’s grasp.
By the sixth over, Maxwell had started to middle the ball with increasing certainty as he drilled a stream of boundaries off Thisara Perera. He reached his half-century in style off just 28 deliveries by lofting a slower one from Kasun Rajitha for a six over the long-on region. Once Maxwell netted in his fifty, he started to play shots in a 360-degree arc.
When Perera attempted the off-cutter in the 15th over, he carved it over extra cover for a boundary and then made a mockery of a well-set field by bringing out the reverse scoop to collect one more boundary over backward point.
The carnage didn’t stop there as Senanayake was hit for three sixes and a boundary in the 17th over of the innings. The offspinner even aimed for the yorker, but Maxwell seemed to have touched rarefied zones as he lofted it into the downtown territories. Maxwell also stitched crucial stands with Travis Head (45) and Usman Khawaja (36). Both batsmen played supporting hands to perfection.
In the last five overs of the innings, Sri Lanka gifted away 85 runs as the visitors compiled a mammoth total. Incidentally, the previous record for the highest score in T20Is was by Sri Lanka against Kenya at Wanderers when they had aggregated 260 for 6. Maxwell’s whirlwind 65-ball 145 turned out to be the second highest individual score in T20Is.
At the other end of the spectrum, Sri Lanka put up a disappointing show. Under pressure, they crumbled as catches were dropped. With the Australian batsmen running the opposition ragged, there were quite a few misfields too.
Australia would be buoyed by the thoroughly professional performance put on a sweltering day. For the hosts, it turned out to be a humbling experience as they were completely outclassed in all three departments of the game.
Brief Scores: Australia 263 for 3 in 20 overs (Glenn Maxwell 145*, Travis Head 45; Sachith Pathirana 1-45) beat Sri Lanka 178 for 9 in 20 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 58; Mitchell Starc 3-26, Scott Boland 3-26) by 85 runs.