Australia belted the Sri Lankan bowling to every corner of Pallekele as they brought up the highest Twenty20 International score ever of 263/3 on Tuesday. The previous record was set by Sri Lanka themselves in 2007, when they hit 260/6 against Kenya. Glenn Maxwell roared back to form by bringing up the second-highest individual score in T20Is (145 from 63 balls). The Lankans fought hard in an improbable chase, but the prolific Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland (both finished with 3/26) restricted the hosts to 178/9 in 20 overs, as Australia won the first of two T2OIs by 85 runs.
Dinesh Chandimal (58 from 43) steered the Lankans during the chase, but his decision to bat second spectacularly blew up in his face right from the early overs of the match. For the first time during the last month, the Lankan spinners looked perplexed. Maxwell was at his vintage best: unorthodox, instinctive and brutal.
After being dropped from the side following a string of low scores, the Australian team management decided to open with Maxwell, a ploy seldom used in the past. Maxwell's early blitz forced the Sri Lankan bowlers to change their line a bit, but their lengths were all over the place.
There were ample full tosses and short deliveries outside the off stump. The spinners tried a fuller line and took a severe beating on the leg side. There were a couple of dropped catches too as the packed 22,000-strong crowd watched in disbelief at the proceedings. Travis Head (45 from 18) extended Sri Lanka's misery just as Maxwell began to drop his guard a little. The Australian all-rounder was dismissed off the last ball.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera perished in the first two overs and the doors were partially shut on the 2014 world champions. Starc, unfailingly, took a wicket in the first over of the innings. There was a glimmer of hope when Chandimal and Kusal Mendis were finding the gaps in the field. The scoring rate came at a healthy 10 runs an over. The breakthrough came from an unlikely source in Moises Henriques.
Veteran Chamara Kapugedera (43 from 25) was the standout performer for Sri Lanka, and was at ease while trying to clear the ropes. With wickets falling in quick succession, Kapugedera ran out of partners, and was eventually dismissed by Starc's change of pace. Australia inflicted an 85-run defeat, which was Sri Lanka's biggest in the format.
Australia 263/3 in 20 overs (Glenn Maxwell 145 not out, Travis Head 45; Sachith Pathirana 1/45) beat Sri Lanka 178/9 in 20 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 58, Chamara Kapugedera 43; Mitchell Starc 3/26, Scott Boland 3/26) by 85 runs.