PERTH: Marcus Stoinis destroyed the Sri Lankan attack en route to scoring the fastest fifty by an Australian as the host got its T20 World Cup campaign back on track with a seven-wicket victory here on Tuesday.
Charith Asalanka’s 38 not out off 25 balls helped Sri Lanka put up a fighting 157 for six after Australia put it in.
Sri Lanka fought hard before it was blown away by the brute force of Stoinis who remained on 59 off 18 balls as Australia romped home in 16.3 overs. The all-rounder raced to a record half-century in 17 balls. His memorable knock included half a dozen sixes and four boundaries.
Despite losing fast bowler Binura Fernando to injury in the first over, Sri Lanka kept itself in the game for a major part of Australia’s chase.
The dangerous David Warner perished cheaply and skipper Aaron Finch was unable to break the shackles, increasing the pressure on the host. Finch struggled to 24 off his first 35 balls and ended up with 31 off 42 balls.
Mitchell Marsh scored 18 before Glenn Maxwell came up with a couple of sixes and fours in his 12-ball 23 to release some pressure. During his short stay, Maxwell suffered a nasty blow on the right side of helmet grill while trying to pull a rising delivery from Lahiru Kumara.
The all-rounder fell attempting another big hit but substitute Ashen Bandara took a brilliant catch very close to the deep midwicket boundary to leave Australia at 89 for three in the 13th over.
While Finch struggled at the other end, Stoinis came in and produced a barrage of sixes and fours to effectively shut the door on Sri Lanka.
Stoinis, and the rest of the batters, targeted star Sri Lanka spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who had a day to forget, leaking 53 runs in three overs.
Earlier, defending champion Australia produced a disciplined bowling effort for the majority of the innings before Asalanka propped up the total on a quick pitch.
The last four overs yielded 46 runs for Sri Lanka including a 20-run final over from Pat Cummins.
The left-handed Asalanka launched into Cummins in the 20th over, hitting a sublime straight six besides a pull for a boundary. Chamika Karunaratne gave Asalanka good support with an unbeaten 14 off seven balls.
Early on, the Sri Lankan innings could never get the momentum after Australia put it into bat. After Kusal Mendis fell cheaply, Pathum Nissanka (40 off 45 balls) and Dhananjaya de Silva (26 off 23) shared a steady 69-run stand off 58 balls before regular fall of wickets derailed the Sri Lankan innings.
BRIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 157/6 in 20 overs (P Nissanka 40) lost to Australia 158/3 in 16.3 overs (M Stoinis 59*).