| Shane Watson celebrates after dismissing William Porterfield. (AFP)
Colombo: 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 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 their opening Group B encounter at the 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 wickets for 26 runs — including the ones of ’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. 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 ensured his side’s victory.
Earlier, it was due to a 52-run fifth wicket stand between Niall and Kevin ’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 but the ball ballooned up for Mitchell Starc to take a simple catch at deep fine-leg.