Shane Watson shrugged his shoulders after a rare Irish six sail off his bowling, and David Warner stretched in the deep. Once those small nuggets of the last over were done with, it was business as usual for the two as they provided the base for Australia’s seven-wicket victory over Ireland in their ICC World Twenty20 Group ‘B’ match at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Wednesday.

Once the duo had clipped 60 runs off 43 balls, the contest was just headed one-way with Australia emphatically proving that its tenth rank below Ireland was a mere anomaly.

Chasing Ireland’s 123 for seven, Australia scored 125 for three in 15.1 overs, with Watson’s 51 (30b, 5x4, 3x6) destroying rival captain William Porterfield’s dreams of pulling off a surprise win.

Australia relished a cracking start with Warner firing the fast volley. The opener’s pull off Boyd Rankin paved the way for Watson’s burly belligerence.

Trent Johnston was flicked for six as Watson offered a contrasting picture of cherubic smiles and elemental fury. Left-arm spinner George Dockrell was carted into the top-tier over long-on as Watson raced to a 28-ball fifty. The all-rounder’s subsequent run-out and Michael Hussey’s dismissal did not alter the game’s destiny as captain George Bailey and Cameron White knocked off the remaining runs.

Earlier, Porterfield opted to bat and, in keeping with his pre-match declaration of playing confident-cricket, uncoiled with a hook off the very first ball. And, much to the amusement of bowler Watson, the Ireland skipper failed to beat Mitchell Starc at fine-leg.

Perhaps from that moment — and in the manner in which the Power Play shaped up — Porterfield would have realised that the line that splits fearlessness and recklessness is indeed thin.

Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce were all guilty of picking fielders instead of denting the billboards, and it was left to the O’Briens — Niall and Kevin — to lend the innings some spine.

The brothers bided their time — the explosive Kevin remained quiet until he found release through an edged four off Brad Hogg. That strike off the 15th delivery he faced helped Kevin to loosen up, and Daniel Christian and Starc copped the after-effects.

The brothers added 52 runs for the fifth-wicket, but — like their top-order peers — were guilty of indulging in fatal strokes that were high on ambition and low on execution.

Ireland lost its way after the O’Briens departed, and Nigel Jones’ six off Watson came too late in the last over.

‘Man of the match’ Watson soon was in the thick of things as Australia reiterated its superiority.

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