Pallekele: Opener Glenn Maxwell’s blistering century in Australia’s world record 263 powered the visitors to a comprehensive 85-run win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 international in Pallekele on Tuesday.
Australia, who broke Sri Lanka’s nine-year record of 260/6 against Kenya in 2007, restricted the hosts to 178 for nine in 20 overs to take 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Maxwell destroyed the Sri Lankan bowling attack with his unbeaten 145 off 65 balls, which was laced with 14 fours and nine sixes, after the visitors were invited to bat first.
Skipper David Warner gave Australia a fiery start with his 28 runs off 12 balls as he put on a 57-run opening partnership with Maxwell to lay a solid foundation.
Off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake bowled Warner on a looping delivery that held its line to take the off stump, but Sri Lanka’s joy was shortlived as Maxwell, who was dropped from the ODI squad, was just warming up at the other end.
“I thought to give the bloke (Maxwell) an opportunity, I like a right-hand, left-hand combination at the top. Credit to him, he has worked hard at home. Tonight was all Maxi,” said Warner.
The opener, who registered his maiden T20 century in his 35th game, found the perfect partner in Usman Khawaja, who scored 36 off 22 balls, as the duo put together 97 runs for the second wicket.
Debutant left-arm spinner Sachith Pathirana got Khawaja trudging back to the pavilion, only to see Travis Head join forces with Maxwell.
Maxwell and Head, who scored an 18-ball 45, then put on 109 runs for the third wicket as it was raining boundaries at a packed Pallekele International Stadium.
Maxwell fell 11 runs short of teammate Aaron Finch’s top T20 score of 156 as he faced a single ball in the final over of the innings.
“A little bit instinctive, tried to hit my areas based on the field. Been playing really well in the T20 format over the last 12 months,” Maxwell said of his epic knock.
“Nice to get an opportunity to bat at the top, slightly easier place to bat.”
The economy rates of Sri Lankan bowlers went for a toss as Senanayake, Thisara Perera and Pathirana took a wicket each but gave away too many runs.
“I’m really disappointed with the way we bowled. If we restricted them to under 200, we would have had a chance,” Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal said.
Sri Lanka were never in the chase after losing openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera (4) in the first two overs of the innings.
Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc struck in his very first over to get Dilshan, who is set to retire from international cricket after the second T20, bowled for four.
The pressure of scoring at over 13 runs an over proved just too much for an inexperienced Sri Lankan batting side as the Aussie bowlers kept picking wickets at regular intervals.
Chandimal top-scored with 58 runs, his fourth T20 half-century, before falling to medium-pacer Scott Boland.
Chamara Kapugedara also hit a 25-ball 43, studded with three fours and three sixes, to give some respect to the Sri Lankan total.
Starc and Boland claimed three wickets each as James Faulkner, Moises Henriques and Adam Zampa took one each.
The action now shifts to Colombo for the final T20 on September 9.