Sri Lanka trio Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka have been banned from international cricket for a year after breaching the team's bio-secure bubble in England.

The players were in Durham preparing for the first of three ODIs against the world champions last month when they left the team hotel to visit the city centre despite strict COVID-19-related rules.

Batsmen Mendis and Gunathilaka and wicketkeeper-batsman Dickwella were sent home and have now been hit with strong sanctions.

The executive committee of Sri Lanka Cricket took into account recommendation made by an independent panel of inquiry before handing down a 12-month ban from playing at international level and a six-month domestic suspension.

They were also given a further one-year ban, which is suspended for a two-year period.

Mendis, Dickwella and Gunathilaka have been fined 10million Sri Lanka Rupees (around £36,000) for their indiscretion.

 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will hold talks with Cricket Australia over coronavirus restrictions during the Ashes amid concerns that several senior players may be reluctant to tour.

Joe Root's side are due to start their bid to regain the urn at The Gabba on December 8, with the fifth and final Test scheduled to begin at Optus Stadium in Perth on January 18.

Multi-format players such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler would face several months away from home, with the T20 World Cup taking place in the United Arab Emirates prior to the Ashes.

It is unclear whether COVID-19 rules may prevent families from travelling to Australia and England players have been in talks this week to seek clarity over restrictions that may be in place.

The ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) say player and staff welfare will be a priority as they prepare to hold discussions with Cricket Australia.

A joint ECB and PCA statement  said: "This week, several meetings have been held between the England men's players, ECB and Team England Player Partnership to discuss provisional plans for the tour of Australia later in the year.

"All parties are collaborating and will continue to work together to understand protocols around bubble environments, family provision and quarantine rules that will be in place for the tour during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

"With player and management’s welfare paramount, the ECB will discuss planning and operational requirements with Cricket Australia in the coming weeks and how they seek to implement their policies in partnership with state and federal governments.

"All stakeholders are committed to putting player and staff welfare as the main priority and finding the right solutions that enables the England team to compete with the best players and at the highest possible standard that the Ashes series deserves."

Sri Lanka claimed a first ever T20I series victory over India as they beat their depleted opponents by seven wickets in the third and final match.

India were undefeated in the previous four series between the nations, yet a COVID-19 outbreak – nine players were put into isolation following a positive test for Krunal Pandya – had further decimated their ranks, considering several regulars are absent with the Test squad in England.

They did win the toss for the decider but were only able to post 81-8 from 20 overs, their third lowest total in the shortest format.

Wanindu Hasaranga was the star for Sri Lanka with the ball, claiming figures of 4-9 from his four overs of leg-spin, and Dasun Shanaka claimed two wickets.

Sri Lanka had few issues chasing such a meagre target, despite a sluggish start to their reply. Avishka Fernando (12), Minod Bhanuka (18) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (6) were the batsmen dismissed, all to the impressive Rahul Chahar (3-15).

Dhananjaya de Silva and Hasaranga made sure victory was secured with plenty of time to spare, finishing up on 23 and 14 not out respectively as the game finished midway through the 15th over following a wide bowled by Varun Chakravarthy.


Short of options, lacking in runs

India's squad suffered a further blow with Navdeep Saini ruled out of the winner-takes-all clash through injury. Sandeep Warrier, who had initially made the trip as a net bowler, was handed a debut, but the pace bowler had little to work with after the tourists' top order collapsed.

Captain Shikhar Dhawan fell for a first-ball duck as India slumped to 25-4 after 30 deliveries. Kuldeep Yadav finished up as the top scorer with 23 not out, one of just three players to reach double figures.

Happy birthday, Hasaranga! 

Hasaranga had already moved up to second in the T20I bowling rankings prior to producing career-best figures on Thursday. His dazzling spell included 15 dot balls, while he unsurprisingly did not concede a boundary. India did not manage to hit one six, either.

The birthday boy celebrated turning 24 in style, helping Sri Lanka win successive T20 games for the first time since October 2019 in the process, while India had not suffered back-to-back losses in the 20-over format since July 2017.

India went down by four wickets to Sri Lanka in Colombo on Wednesday, levelling their Twenty20 International series after losing a number of big names to a coronavirus outbreak.

The tourists will have to bounce back quickly ahead of Thursday's decider having come up just short of a victory that would have secured a fourth successive bilateral series success against Sri Lanka in this format.

Krunal Pandya's positive COVID-19 test prompted the postponement of this match on Tuesday and ruled out eight players as close contacts.

That meant there were four debutants in the India XI, with Ruturaj Gaikwad opening in a depleted batting line-up and Devdutt Padikkal coming in at number three, and Sri Lanka capitalised.

India made a promising start, but were restricted to 132-5 after being asked to bat first, captain Shikhar Dhawan top scoring with 40.

Although Minod Bhanuka (36) departed quickly after he was dropped by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sri Lanka remained within reach heading into the closing stages of their chase.

A brief late rain delay dragged out the drama and Sri Lanka – led by Dhananjaya de Silva (40 not out) – then immediately profited from a 12-run 19th over that brought them within eight, a target achieved with two balls to spare.

HERO TO ZERO

This should have been a night to remember for Bhuvneshwar, whose unbeaten career-high 13 in India's innings – batting up the order at six – was followed by his 50th wicket in the format. He is the fourth Indian bowler to this mark.

But, as well as that awful drop, he was the man running in for the 19th over, with Sri Lanka in complete control after Chamika Karunaratne hit a full toss for six.

TOUGH GROUNDING

For a time, it had appeared as though Bhuvneshwar was setting an example for Chetan Sakariya, the debutant seamer who struggled from the outset. Ultimately, they both contributed to India's defeat.

Starting alongside Bhuvneshwar in the attack, there were nine runs off Sakariya's first over and 10 off the second. A first wicket came in the third as Ramesh Mendis paid for his aggressive approach, but that over still brought eight and the miserable fourth saw Sri Lanka seal victory. Sakariya went for 34 off 3.4 overs.

The second Twenty20 International of the series between Sri Lanka and India has been put back a day after Krunal Pandya tested positive for coronavirus.

Pandya was in the India team that won the first match by 38 runs in Colombo on Sunday, but the all-rounder returned a positive test ahead of the second game scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) revealed eight members of the touring party were identified as close contacts with Pandya, so they have been forced into isolation.

Sri Lanka and India will instead contest the second game on Wednesday, with the third and final game of the series taking place on Thursday.

The BCCI revealed RT-PCR tests were undertaken to discover if there has been any further outbreak in the squad.

Sri Lanka will be hoping a win in 50-over cricket can trigger a white-ball resurgence as they prepare to take on India in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday in Colombo.

Half-centuries from Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the third and final ODI between the nations on Friday, just their second win in 11 outings.

They have struggled in T20 action too, winning just once in their previous 13 completed fixtures. Home advantage should help, yet they have not triumphed at the R. Premadasa Stadium – the venue for all three of the upcoming fixtures against India – in the shortest format since August 2018.

Runs were hard to come by on the recent tour of England, including being bowled out for 91 in the final match as the hosts completed an emphatic 3-0 sweep at the Ageas Bowl.

Sri Lanka at least avoided that fate against India in one-day action, aided by a turning track on Friday that allowed their spinners to trigger a batting collapse – the tourists lost their final seven wickets for just 68 runs following a rain delay.

They could also be boosted by the return of Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the final ODI due to an injury concern.

India, meanwhile, remain without a number of their star names, so these games provide crucial opportunities for fringe players as they look to impress, particularly as this is a World Cup year.

Pushing the boundaries

Sri Lanka have hit a boundary once every 7.7 balls faced in the powerplay overs since the beginning of 2020 in T20I action, the worst rate for any team in that period. 

India have the third-slowest rate, taking 5.6 balls for every boundary. Captain Shikhar Dhawan will hope to help lower that number as he continues to lead the team, while Prithvi Shaw could get the chance to stake his claim for a regular top-order spot.

Positive spin can help India

Varun Chakravarthy could finally be handed his international debut in the series. India appeared keen to pick the mystery spinner against England in the T20I series on home soil earlier this year, yet concerns over his level of fitness ruled him out of contention.

The 29-year-old is a compelling option, though. He has taken 25 wickets in 21 matches in the Indian Premier League, 17 of which came in a 2020 campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders that saw him finish with an economy rate of 6.84 runs per over.

Key series facts

– India are unbeaten against Sri Lanka in multi-game bilateral T20I series (W3 D1). India have beaten Sri Lanka in each of the past three such series, the most recent meeting being in January 2020.

– Sri Lanka have one win from their past 11 completed T20I matches against India (L10). The solitary triumph was achieved in March 2018 when the Lions beat the Men in Blue by five wickets at the very same venue this match is being played.

– Since the beginning of 2020, only 43 per cent of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in men's T20I matches have come via boundaries, the lowest rate for any team in that period.

– Dasun Shanaka has a batting dot ball rate of 48 per cent in T20I matches since the beginning of 2020. Only two players have a higher rate than the Sri Lankan (Chris Gayle at 53 per cent and Andre Fletcher at 51 per cent, minimum 100 balls faced).

– Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs five wickets to reach 50 in T20I action for India. He will become the fourth player to achieve this feat for his country, with his career-best figures seeing him take 5-24 against South Africa in 2018.

England snuck to a nerve-jangling three-wicket win over Pakistan with two balls left to clinch a high-quality T20I series 2-1 at Old Trafford.

As was the case in the host's series-levelling victory at Headingley on Sunday, sweltering conditions and a dry surface played into the hands of the spinners, with Adil Rashid (4-35) again the England attack.

Moeen Ali returned a miserly 1-19 from his four overs as the England seamers went wicketless and Mohammad Rizwan carried his bat for a 57-ball 76 within 154-6.

Jason Roy went six, four and out in Leeds but produced something more substantial here, with 12 fours and a six before perishing on the slog sweep at Usman Qadir for 64 off 36 deliveries.

Jos Buttler (21) and Jonny Bairstow (five) also skewed slow bowling skywards and Eoin Morgan (21) joined an out-of-sorts Dawid Malan with the score 112-4 after 15 overs, Moeen having been cleaned up by Mohammad Hafeez (3-28).

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam went back to pace in a pivotal 18th over and Morgan flogged him for a pair of sixes, although Hasan Ali had the last laugh, having the England captain caught at mid-on with four balls remaining.

Malan's dogged 31 had been ended by Hafeez and Liam Livingstone had gone six and out by that stage, meaning a pair of scampered twos from all-rounder Chris Jordan were required to finish the job.

 

Tabraiz Shamsi's 4-27 ensured a routine 33-run win for South Africa over Ireland to secure a 1-0 series lead in the first bilateral men's T20I between the two sides in Malahide on Monday.

Quinton de Kock's 20 off nine balls threatened a promising start but came to an end as he found Paul Stirling's hands off the bowling of Mark Adair and that laid the foundations for a stuttering first-innings performance from the Proteas.

The visitors lost wickets at regular intervals, with Rassie van der Dussen (25 off 18), Aiden Markram (39 off 30) and David Miller (28 off 21) all showing incentive before failing to capitalise as South Africa reached 165-7, a touch above the average first-innings score of 152 in Malahide.

Simi Singh (2-19), Josh Little (2-27) and Adair (3-39) were the pick of the Ireland bowlers despite the latter being bludgeoned for four consecutive fours by Kagiso Rabada in the 20th over, which leaked 17 runs.

Stirling hoisted George Linde's first ball of Ireland's reply for six but that did not prove a sign of things to come given he was immediately bowled around his legs by the following delivery.

Captain Andy Balbirnie's 22 off 16 balls offered minor resistance as he watched his side struggle to 38-4 at the end of the six-over powerplay, courtesy of two wickets for Lungi Ngidi's wickets and one a piece for Linde and Rabada.

Linde and the world's number-one ranked T20I bowler Shamsi then rolled through the hosts' batting line-up to take 2-26 and 4-27 from their respective allocations and restrict Ireland to 132-9, with Harry Tector's 36 off 34 balls and Barry McCarthy's lower-order cameo of 30 off 25 balls offering the smallest of boosts for Ireland's poor batting showing.

Spin it to win it

Singh's maiden ODI hundred proved in vain in the third ODI defeat for Ireland but he proved his worth with the ball in Malahide, producing an economical four-over spell that saw him go for just one boundary.

Linde enjoyed similar spinning success, though, it was Shamsi who stole the show once again for the Proteas.

The left-arm leg-spinner is the most economical bowler in T20I cricket since the start of 2020 and, barring a trio of wides and two avoidable boundaries, Shamsi displayed his quality as he frequently spun the Ireland batsmen into a tangle.

 

O'Brien's ominous struggles

After playing five internationals and scoring just 27 runs, including a duck and three single-score returns, in 2021 heading into this match, Kevin O'Brien fell for another first-ball dismissal as he was caught and bowled by Rabada.

Turning out for Leinster Lightning in Ireland's inter-provincial T20 tournament, O'Brien has endured a lean domestic spell, too, managing a meagre 47 runs in six matches with a top score of 16.

O'Brien, scorer of Ireland's only hundred in the shortest limited-overs format, will be desperate to find form before the T20 World Cup gets underway in October.

Evin Lewis blasted nine sixes and the West Indies to a 16-run victory to complete a 4-1 T20I series triumph over Australia in St Lucia on Friday.

Batting at the top of the order, Lewis smashed 79 from 34 balls, including four fours and nine sixes to get the West Indies off to a flying start after captain Nicholas Pooran won the toss.

Lewis fell at 124-3 at the end of the 11th over, before Andrew Tye took three late wickets while Mitch Marsh impressed again with 12-2.

Pooran (31 from 18) and Chris Gayle (21 from seven) contributed as the West Indies amassed an imposing 199-8, although Australia started brightly in reply led by Marsh.

Marsh came to the crease after opener Josh Philippe fell for one, hitting five fours and one six, before falling off Andre Russell's first ball for 30 from 15 deliveries.

A visibly limping Aaron Finch was spectacularly caught by Fabian Allen with a diving left-hand effort for 34 from 23 off the impressive Hayden Walsh who took the most wickets in the series.

Wickets continued to fall with regularity as Andre Russell finished with a personal T20I best 43-3.

LEWIS PUSHES WORLD CUP CASE

Lewis was dropped after a duck in the opening T20I, before returning with 31 in Wednesday's dead rubber.

But the 29-year-old Trinidadian showcased his ability with a stunning knock on Friday setting the tone for the hosts.

The left-hander is one of the West Indies' players vying for a spot in their final T20 World Cup squad and did his hopes no harm, in a side missing several key players including Kieron Pollard.

Lewis said post-game: "I basically stayed still and watched the ball on to the bat. It's always good to score runs and contribute to the team to get the victory."

The Trinidadian's only two T20I centuries both came in 2017. He added: "I've been working hard from 2017 to now. Obviously, I want to keep scoring runs and cashing in at all times."

MARSH PROVES SHINING LIGHT

Australia lost the series 4-1 with Marsh their shining light from the five-game T20I series, producing another display of his quality in the shortest format on Friday.

Marsh took 12-2 from two overs and crunched 30 from 15, finishing the series with 219 runs at 43.8 with a strike rate above 150.

The big all-rounder also hit 10 sixes throughout the series, double the next best Australian, while he also hit a team-high 20 fours.

Marsh also chipped with the ball, taking a team-high eight wickets, including 24-3.

Finch said: "I think Mitch Marsh stood out with his first opportunity at number three consistently and the role that he did with the ball."

England have been drawn in the same group as rivals Australia for the T20 World Cup, while India have been placed in a pool with Pakistan.

The Super 12 stage of the 16-team limited-overs tournament will see England, Australia, South Africa and West Indies do battle in Group 1, along with two qualifying teams.

Group 2 will contain India and Pakistan, along with New Zealand, Afghanistan and an additional two qualifiers.

Eight teams are involved in round one of the tournament and will vie to fill those final four places in the Super 12.

Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia are in Group A, while Bangladesh, Scotland, Oman and Papa New Guinea make up Group B, with two from each pool to progress and join the highest-ranked nations.

A short round one stage will include 12 matches, starting on October 17 and the top two from each group progressing.

The winners of Group A joining the group involving England and Australia along with the runners-up of Group B. Bangladesh are favourites to win Group B - if they do, they will join the competitive group containing India along with the side who finishes second in Group A.

The Super 12 stage is scheduled to start a week later from October 24 and will consist of 30 matches, making up the bulk of the tournament.

Only four teams will emerge to contest the semi-finals, with the final then to be held on November 14.

It was confirmed last month by the ICC that the T20 World Cup will now be held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman rather than India this year.

Australia was originally scheduled to host the 2020 tournament ahead of India staging it this year. 

However, the pandemic forced the ICC to postpone last year's tournament, giving Australia hosting rights for 2022.

A second surge in cases of coronavirus in India then forced a major change to the 2021 competition, which will still be hosted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

West Indies are the defending champions after defeating England in the final the last time this tournament was held back in 2016.

England and India are rated as the leading contenders to come out on top, ranked one and two in the world respectively by the ICC in the format.

England's second string have "done themselves a world of good" with their performances in the ODI series against Pakistan, says captain Eoin Morgan.

Ben Stokes returned early from an injury lay-off to captain a hastily assembled side in the three-match series after England's first-choice squad were forced to isolate due to a coronavirus outbreak.

However, with Morgan and Co watching on from the sidelines, England's back-up brigade impressed in a 3-0 series triumph – James Vince scoring his maiden ODI century as he led a record run chase at Edgbaston to secure the third victory.

England's star names have returned for the T20I series, which starts on Friday, though Saqib Mahmood, who was named player of the series, and Lewis Gregory have been rewarded for their performances.

"They've done themselves the world of good, to be honest," Morgan said when asked of the players who stepped up to fulfil the ODI series.

"The one thing you look at when guys come in and out is a marked improvement from the time they [first] get the opportunity to the time the next opportunity arrives. The two guys mentioned [Mahmood and Gregory] and Vince were outstanding.

"I think everybody within the group was extremely proud to watch them play like they did, simply because it's the biggest compliment you can pay to anybody who played in the World Cup group, and the way we've played in the last five years has had such an impact on the game.

"Guys recognise that opportunities are few and far between but, when they do come, the method that the team plays is starting to resonate with people around the country, which is great.

"Over the last six years, with the amount of cricket we play, you don't get to enjoy the cricket as much as you'd like. But sitting back and watching the guys [and] the way the guys played was hugely satisfying. They played an exciting brand of cricket, they really enjoyed themselves, and the result came with that. It was hugely beneficial."

 

England have triumphed in five of their past six T20I home outings, and finished 2020 with three successive wins, meaning a victory at Trent Bridge will match their longest winning run on home soil in the format.

However, Pakistan won the most recent meeting between the teams last September, a five-run victory in Manchester in a series which finished 1-1.

One player Morgan will be unable to call on is Stokes, who has been rested as he recovers from the finger injury which had been set to keep him out of white-ball action this month.

"He dug us out of a huge hole coming back early from his injury and I think leading the way he did is a huge compliment to the leader he is within our side, how mature he has been as a leader and now a captain," Morgan said of Stokes.

"We gave him every chance to be fit. He hasn't played a lot of cricket and he's had some 'R and R' at home and feels quite fresh.

"The finger hasn't come along as he and the medical team would have liked, so it's important it's as good as it can be for the Test matches against India."

Mitchell Starc held his nerve at the death to guide Australia to their maiden win of the T20I Series by four runs after the West Indies almost blasted their way to victory from an improbable position on Thursday.

Chasing 189-6, the West Indies needed 57 from 24 balls with five wickets left after Mitch Marsh took two wickets in an over, before fireworks from Fabian Allen (29 from 14) and Andre Russell (22* from 13) turned the game on its head in St Lucia.

The pair combined for four sixes from five balls in the penultimate over from Riley Meredith, needing 11 off the final over but Starc sent down five dot balls to Russell in the last to earn Australia a win which makes the series 3-1.

Australia captain Aaron Finch had won the toss and elected to bat, starting strongly with the skipper making 53 from 37 balls alongside Mitch, who top scored with 75 from 44 deliveries, in a 114-run stand.

The tourists stumbled in the middle order again, losing 40-5 with Hayden Walsh taking three wickets, before some late hitting from Dan Christian and Starc lifted them to a strong total.

The West Indies flew out of the blocks in their pursuit with Lendl Simmons posting 72 from 48 before the outstanding Marsh (24-3) dismissed him, along with Nicholas Pooran in quick succession.

All seemed lost for the hosts at 132-5 but Allen and Russell offered hope, before Starc's clutch final over.

The West Indies have clinched their T20 International series against Australia, racing to an unassailable 3-0 lead with a dominant six-wicket win in St Lucia on Monday.

Chris Gayle produced his best knock since his return to the international side, with 67 from 38 balls as the West Indies cruised in the chase, winning with 31 balls to spare.

Stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran (32* from 27 balls) finished the job with back-to-back boundaries off Riley Meredith (48-3) to seal the series victory with two games to play.

Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bat first this time, with his batsmen failing to capitalise on several starts, only managing 141-6.

Moises Henriques top scored with 33, hitting Australia's only two sixes, with Hayden Walsh restricting them with 18-2 from four overs.

The improved Mitchell Starc (18-1 from four) dismissed Andre Fletcher early, bringing Gayle to the crease and the 41-year-old was at his best.

Gayle hit several lusty blows, including seven sixes and four fours in his knock, before edging to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade off Meredith.

RETURN TO FORM FOR GAYLE?

Gayle has made it clear that his return to the West Indies, after two years away, has been inspired by competing at the T20 World Cup later this year.

Despite strong Indian Premier League form, he has struggled upon his return to the international arena, managing only 102 runs in nine innings.

The veteran left-hander made his first T20 International half-century since 2016 with his knock at first drop on Monday.

"From a personal point of view, you all knew I was struggling with the bat, but to be get some runs today it's very pleasing," Gayle said. "I want to dedicate these runs to my teammates, especially Kieron Pollard. He gave me the pep talk I needed."

Gayle made 288 runs in seven innings at an average of 41.14 in the 2020 IPL, before scoring 178 runs in eight knocks in the 2021 edition.

"Looking back, when I got back into the West Indies team against Sri Lanka, I was trying to play a different role, than play Chris Gayle himself," Gayle said. "I didn’t get the runs but the guys rallied around me. It's coming on, my main focus is the World Cup."

AUSSIES T20I WOES CONTINUE

Australia continue to struggle in the shortest format, having been comfortably beaten in all three matches in the series.

Finch, who made 30 from 31 deliveries at the top of the order, felt there was a clear theme to address among the losses.

"Same as the other games, we haven’t had the top order go on deep into the innings," Finch said. "It's been quite similar the whole way through. Credit to the West Indies, they bowled beautifully, especially at the back end."

Australia have only managed scores of 127, 140 and 141-6 in the three T20Is this series, bowled out on both occasions when they have chased.

"We would’ve liked more runs, no doubt," Finch added. "That comes down to the top order not going through. If one of your top four is there through the end you put pressure on the bowlers."

Shimron Hetmyer blasted the West Indies to a 2-0 lead in their five-game T20I series against Australia with a 56-run at St Lucia on Saturday.

Hetmyer arrived at the crease at 44-2 in the sixth over but blasted four sixes on his way to 61 from 36 deliveries.

Australia captain Aaron Finch had won the toss and elected to field, but the West Indies amassed 196-4 buoyed by Hetmyer's knock, piling on 123 runs in the latter 10 overs.

Hetmyer had excellent support from Dwayne Bravo (47* from 34) and Andre Russell (24* from eight), feasting on a wayward Mitchell Starc (49-0 from four overs).

The tourists struggled again with the bat, losing openers Matthew Wade (duck) and Finch (six) cheaply, before being bowled out for 140.

Mitch Marsh, elevated to first drop, top scored with 54 from 42 balls, as Hayden Walsh took 29-3 while Sheldon Cottrell claimed 22-2.

Australia lost 39-7 after Marsh's dismissal to Walsh, with the tourists struggling to offer any significant resistance, managing only two sixes for the innings, compared to the West Indies' 13.

HETMYER HITS 'EM

After Chris Gayle failed, Guyana left-hander Hetmyer stepped up with his 61 being his international T20I best, and also only his second half-century for the West Indies.

Hetmyer said: "I think it was one of my best T20 innings. I paced it quite well. The guys backed me to take it as deep as possible. Once you do that, you have a licence."

The 24-year-old capitalized on that licence, hitting Ashton Agar, Marsh and Adam Zampa for sixes in consecutive overs.

Hetmyer was run out with 13 balls left in the innings, before Bravo and Russell added another 34 runs to set an imposing target.

The pair took a liking to Starc, with 15 runs coming from four balls in the penultimate over.

AUSSIES T20I WOES

Finch declined the blame his decision to bowl first for the defeat, while he also refused to give the series away despite trailing 2-0 and being outplayed so far.

The Australia skipper said: "I don’t think the wicket changed a huge amount. I thought it played pretty well. Chasing 190, you have to get off to a pretty good start and when your two openers get out cheaply, it puts a lot of pressure on a reasonably inexperienced international middle order."

On the series, Finch added: "We have to win three games in the series, doesn’t matter if you do it at the start of the series or come from behind."

This is Australia's first games since losing 3-2 in a five-game T20I series in New Zealand in February and March.

Finch's side also lost 2-1 in a T20I International series away to England in September last year as they strive to find their groove in the shortest format.

West Indies took six Australia wickets for just 19 runs as the hosts secured victory in the sides' T20 opener.

The Windies put on 145-6 in St Lucia, where Obed McCoy and Hayden Walsh did most of the damage with the ball in an 18-run triumph.

Andre Russell's maiden half-century was also a telling contribution in what was a fifth win in six for the Windies against Australia in this format

Australia had looked in good shape after restricting the home side to 35-3 off 7.4 overs, but Russell's 51 came from 28 deliveries to help his side to a credible total.

The tourists lost the dangerous Aaron Finch in the second over of their response before rallying to reach 108-4 at just past the midway point.

With Australia firmly on track for the win, the Windies needed something special and it was McCoy and Walsh who produced the goods.

Wickets tumbled as McCoy took 4-26 and Walsh claimed 3-23, with seven of Australia's batting order limited to a single-figure contribution in an innings where they were all out for 127 in 16 overs.

THE REAL MCCOY

It was a devastating spell with the ball for McCoy, who accounted for Josh Philippe, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

But it wasn't just his wicket-taking that impressed, with McCoy suppressing Australia's run rate by delivering 13 dot balls in a man-of-the-match display.

"It feels great," said McCoy. "I've been working really hard. It was just all about execution and sticking to the team plan.

"Normally on that surface the ball has nice bounce and carry but I was just trying to mix up my pace as much as I can."

NO EXCUSES FROM FINCH

Australia captain Finch offered no excuses for what was a shocking collapse from his side.

Finch admitted his team needed to show a little more intelligence in their approach.

He said: "We've been working on trying to be a little more aggressive in the middle overs but maybe just need to rein it in and have some more smarts.

"I thought the wicket played a little better batting second. There's no excuses for our batting display there.

"You've got to dust yourselves off and come again with the same attitude but just execute a little bit better under pressure."

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