There's plenty of heaving from both batsmen as Cummins comes back into the attack to finish his spell, but neither man can find the boundary. Just five runs come from the over. Ireland can still reach 120 if they push, which will be something of an achievement given the day they've had.
WICKET! Johnston's enterprising innings comes to a quick end as a Starc yorker zips under his bat to disturb the stumps. An Aussie is swapped for a Kiwi, as bowling allrounder Nigel Jones comes out to bat. I wonder if the Australians, the actual ones, will give him some stick out there? There doesn't seem to be any chirp, but his technique is tested by Starc, who fires in a sharp yorker. The Irish innings is coming to a stuttering end.
Damien Fleming, on the tv commentary, has a sly dig at the Australian-born Alex Cusack, calling him "more of a grade player", but he looks a decent bat as he steps away to spank Cummins to the extra cover boundary. Trent Johnston, a contemporary of Brett Lee's in Australian cricket back in the 90s, then adds another boundary with an extraordinarily cheeky, Brendan Taylor-esque ramp cut over the keeper's head. They don't know when they're beat, these Irish.
Hogg's sweating profusely but finds the strength to creak through another fine over of fizzing left-arm wristspin. He must be relishing bowling to the new batsmen, who are content to tap him around for ones and twos. Hogg finishes with the figures of 1 for 22 from four overs. He'll play till he's fifty if they let him.
WICKET! Watto's only gone and broken the partnership! Gosh, he doesn't look that threatening at all, but he's removed both O'Brien brothers in the space of four deliveries. Niall had taken their partnership to 50 with an outside edge that bounced on the sandy outfield in front of Wade, bouncing up and nearly decapitating the keeper. He then tried a slog sweep to a legcutter, but had his timber rattled. Watson then sent down a quick bouncer at Kevin, the right-hander ramping it straight into Wade's gloves. That'll really put a dent in the Irish hopes.
Kevin O'Brien is leading Ireland's fightback now. Starc comes back into the attack, and a short ball is smeared to deep midwicket with alacrity. Niall follows his brother's lead, using his feet to the fast bowler and swinging hard, but it's Kevin who finds the second boundary in the over as he steps away and biffs a bottom-handed drive over extra cover like a latter day Brian Boru. The partnership's now 48, and KOB's cruised to a 27-ball 35.
A chipped drive bursts through Dan Christian's fingers, and the bowler is left to rue the (albeit very hard) missed chance as KOB's burly forearms send the next delivery racing to the extra cover boundary. Christian responds by pulling his length back a touch and is joined by Warner in giving the batsman a friendly chirp. Perhaps they're discussing the weather? It must be very warm indeed, everyone's sweating buckets out there. KOB suggests that he's had enough of the chat, and Umpire Dharmasena steps in to cool everyone down. Unfortunately, not with a hosepipe or an icebucket.
Kevin O'Brien finds his first boundary off Hogg, but he can count himself very lucky. He'd been completely flummoxed by a Hogg wrong 'un, but there's no slip in place and a flashing edge runs down to third man. His second boundary is a little more authoritative, Hogg losing his length and KOB stepping back to punch firmly through cover point. Nine runs from the over, and Ireland are starting to tick now.
It seems a little wrong to class both Maxwell and Hogg as spinners ... Hogg's a cut above Maxwell's straightbreaks, and Niall O'Brien opts to attack the offie with a powerful sweep shot that deep square leg can only parry over the boundary. That's a little more like it, and takes the O'Brien partnership to 20.
Hogg, more than twice the age of the youngest member of his team at 41 years and 226 days, hustles through another very tricksy over. He uses the wrong 'un to good effect, keeping the batsmen guessing, and gives away just five runs. Both O'Briens use the sweep to good effect, but neither can find the boundary and the innings continues to meander.
Watto comes back, and there's the first hint of misbehaviour from the pitch as one scuttles through low and Kevin O'Brien has to jab down quickly in defence. Watson generally keeps the ball a little short of a length, and out of KOB's hitting arc, and there's even a hint of an appeal as a bouncer shoots past KOB's grille. Watto reckons there's something on it, and gives KOB a fearsome ear-bashing when it's given not out.
WICKET! The evergreen Brad Hogg is into the attack, and removes Wilson lbw to spark a fist-pumping celebration. Doesn't he love it. The wicket immediately sets his tongue a-wagging, and the aging revenant bustles through a very impressive first over. Some spin, some drift and plenty of guile. The wicket unites the O'Brien brothers at the crease, Kevin entering and getting off the mark with an uncharacteristically gentle nudge into the covers.
Dan Christian is into the attack, with the field spread. Though he's only bowling a brisk medium pace, he finds pace and carry off the track, beating Wilson's outside edge with a lifter outside off and then hurrying his pull shot with a nippy bouncer. The gaps in the field do allow a couple of singles, but the Irish innings continues to stultify. Bring on the mighty KOB!
WICKET! Bailey brings Maxwell's somewhat nondescript offspinners into the attack, and is quickly rewarded with Joyce's wicket. There's precious little in the way of turn for the finger spinner, but he varies his pace nicely and finds some drift through the air to the left-hander. Joyce was starting to settle in nicely, but a limp lofted off drive lands right in mid-off's lap. Gary Wilson, who's coming off a successful season with Surrey, walks to the crease and eases off the mark with a checked cover drive for four. Confident stuff. Ireland need a little more of that.
Joyce is starting to flow nicely now. He finds his second boundary with a neat drive into the on side, mid on diving over the ball, and his third with a cracking pull to wide long on. Those two deliveries, one too full, the other too short, are Cummins' only lapses in the over, as there are also four dot balls.
WICKET! Stirling was starting to look a little fidgety at the dawdling run rate, and tried to break free with a slash outside off. Starc's pace and bounce mean the shot is top edged, and Watson holds a simple chance down at third man. Watto sets off in whooping celebration down by the boundary, while a disconsolate Stirling trudges off. Sensing the danger of a collapse, Niall O'Brien leaves his first two deliveries well alone. Both wickets have fallen to catches behind square - fine leg and third man. This must be a pretty quick, bouncy track.
Bailey swaps Watson for Cummins, the young quick bowling with good pace but keeping the ball nice and full. Joyce has his first boundary with an elegant flick to long leg, where Maxwell charges along the boundary and slides past the ball, his arm in contact with the ball as he attempts to recover and stop the four. Bailey keeps two slips in for the over, though they're not needed in what already looks like a good batting track. Ireland need to start getting a move on now.
A much less frenetic second over, with Starc loping to the crease and finding swing and bounce off the Premadasa pitch. He moves the ball in to Stirling's pads, and away from Joyce's outside edge, and both batsmen are happy to just have a look and play with circumspection.
Two slips in place as Watson gets first use of the new ball, succeeding with his very first delivery. WICKET! The bounce gets big on Porterfield, who follows through with the pull regardless - and holes out at fine-leg. Comfortable catch for Starc. Zimbabwe lost their captain to a first-ball duck yesterday, and never recovered. Joyce in now, watching from the other end as Stirling nearly perishes at midwicket before asserting his authority with a boundary banged over cover.
With the fanfare, national anthems, handshakes and other such pleasantries over, umpires Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena, opening batsmen Porterfield and Stirling and the Australian XI out to the middle for the start of play. Game on.
Pseudo pitch pundit Damien Fleming surveys the playing surface and finds a thin layer of grass, which should suit the seamers initially, of course. It will prove progressively lower and slower throughout proceedings, though, with the spinners set to have a big say. Weather-wise, it's partly cloudy - and temperatures are exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. The odd thundershower has been predicted too. The crowd is small, but we will certainly see a bigger one for the second half of today's double-header later, when India clash with Afghanistan. Meanwhile, your opinions welcome here: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Porterfield (captain), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Gary Wilson (wicketkeeper), Kevin O'Brien, Trent Johnston, George Dockrell, Nigel Jones, Boyd Rankin, Alex Cusack.
Shane Watson, David Warner, Mike Hussey, George Bailey (captain), Cameron White, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, Brad Hogg, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc.
No David Hussey, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay or Ben Hilfenhaus in Australia's XI, while the Irish have excluded Andrew White, Max Sorensen Stuart Thompson and Tim Murtagh.
This just in: William Porterfield triumphs in the flip of the coin and Ireland will bat first.
Oscar Samson is incensed by Australia's selection, which has seen David Hussey take a backseat to the talent of Glenn Maxwell lately: "This move of dropping Hussey is going to backfire. A team can't just drop a player of his experience, no matter how much 'x-factor' Maxwell professes to have. I await Hussey's return at the expense of Maxwell."
We've got our first bit of opinion for the day. James McGintston, and Irishman if ever there was one, "really hopes this inside knowledge that bowling coach Craig McDermott brings to the party pays off for the Irish. One loss and we are pretty much out of the competition. Now is the time of the reckoning, so let's do this," insists McGinston.
Hello and welcome to our over-by-over commentary of the World Twenty20 Group B fixture between Australia and Ireland at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.