Colombo: Shane Watson's 51 as an opener and 3 for 26 with the ball helped Australia to a comprehensive seven-wicket win in their opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 against Ireland here on Wednesday.
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, Shane Watson picked up 3 for 26 to help Australia hold Ireland to a modest 123 for 7. The right-arm seam bowler dismissed Ireland captain William Porterfield on the very first delivery of the match and added to his account at crucial moments to stymie the qualifying winners.
Porterfield won the toss and elected to bat first at the R Premadasa Stadium but he failed as an opening batsman to a first-ball duck. Porterfield tried to hook a bouncer but ended up only top-edging the ball for a comfortable catch at deep fine-leg by Mitchell Starc.
Watson and Starc were involved again in the dismissal of Paul Stirling when Ireland's total was 15. The batsman sliced the ball against Starc, the left-arm seamer, and was well caught by Watson at third man.
Ed Joyce tried to lift the ball over the infield against offspinner Glenn Maxwell but found David Warner at mid-off on 16. Left-arm chinaman bowler Brad Hogg broke through in his second delivery trapping Gary Wilson lbw for 5 in the eighth over.
At 33 for 4, Ireland were precariously placed, then brothers Kevin (35) and Niall O'Brien (20) combined for 52 to help set up a decent total.
Kevin hit five boundaries during his 29-ball innings and Niall made 20 off 24 balls before Watson dismissed both in the 15th over, bowling Niall and, three balls later, having Kevin caught by wicketkeeper Mathew Wade.
Starc gave Watson good support in returning 2 for 20.
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