Dubai: Marcus Stoinis hails from Western Australia. Perth is his home ground. When his family and friends joined the crowd at the Perth Stadium (Optus Stadium) on Tuesday, the local boy had to put on a show. Stoinis did just that. He hammered huge sixes in the stands, turning a difficult chase into a breezy finish as Australia beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets with 21 balls to spare.
Stoinis struck 59 off 18 balls, and along the way, he created an Australian record for the fastest fifty (17 balls) in T20 Internationals. It was also the second quickest in a T20 World Cup after Yuvraj Singh’s 12-ball effort in 2007.
“Once I got in, the plan was just to keep going. To be honest I was really nervous today being at home in Perth with lots of family and friends here but really happy we put on a bit of a clinic today. Mentally I was nice and fresh having some time off with this side strain, but so far so good. I felt good,” Stoinis told Star Sport after receiving the Player of the Match award.
Australia’s Group 1 game on Tuesday against Sri Lanka didn’t go according to plan until Stoinis strode onto the pitch. A win, a quick win, was required to inflate their sagging net run rate and revive Australia’s fortunes in the T20 World Cup 2022 after the heavy defeat to New Zealand in the Super 12 opener.
Stoinis targets Hasaranga and Theekshana
When skipper Adam Finch put Sri Lanka into bat, the Australian pacers had the batsmen on the hop with their pace, bounce and movement. Pathum Nissanka (40 off 45 balls) and Charith Asalanka (38 not out off 27 balls) coped well enough to steer their team to 157/6, which at one stage didn’t look possible.
Australia’s chase stuttered against the Sri Lankan pace duo of Lahiru Kumara and Chamika Karunaratne, but Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell (23 off 12 balls) broke free to target the spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana. Stoinis walked in when much of the pace fury had waned. He nudged around to take boundaries off the fast bowlers before turning his attention to the spinners.
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Hasaranga, who suffered against the flashing blade of Maxwell, was Stoinis’s first target. He took 19 from the leggie’s over with two sixes and a four before turning to Theekshana. Stoinis hammered three sixes as the off-spinner conceded 20.
It was a six-fest on one of the longest grounds. Some of the hits were so powerful that they landed on the stands. It was a superb exhibition of power-hitting against two of the best spinners in the T20 business. One pull shot off Hasaranga stood out for the sheer audacity of execution. The ball was barely short as Stoinis rocked back and lashed it over midwicket with immense power and timing.
More sixes are in store. Keep your eyes peeled for Stoinis.