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ICC World Cup 2019 | Warner, Bowlers Star as Australia Trounce Afghanistan

Afghanistan were no match to Australia as the five-time champions commenced their title defence with a resounding seven-wicket win in Bristol.

Cricketnext Staff |June 2, 2019, 1:59 PM IST
ICC World Cup 2019 | Warner, Bowlers Star as Australia Trounce Afghanistan

Another day, another one-sided affair.

Just like every other encounter so far in the 2019 World Cup, the second match on Saturday (May 6) turned out to be a yet another game where one team was bulldozered by the other. Afghanistan were no match to Australia as the five-time champions commenced their title defence with a resounding seven-wicket win in Bristol.

Opting to bat, Afghanistan looked down and out against Australia's intimidating bowling unit and were reduced to 77 for 5. However, Najibullah Zadran (51) and skipper Gulbadin Naib (31) added 83 runs for the sixth wicket before Rashid Khan smoked some lusty blows to push Afghanistan to 207.

In response, captain Aaron Finch (49-ball 66) got Australia off to a superb start before David Warner's uncharacteristic, yet solid 114-ball 89* led them to their ninth successive win in ODIs.

Earlier, Mitchell Starc (1 for 31), who last played an ODI in November 2018, looked all charged up and was breathing fire with the new ball. The left-arm paceman announced his arrival with a yorker and in the space of just one ball, Mohammad Shahzad knew who he was against. Starc's inswinger is as lethal as it comes and Shahzad got the taste of it in the third delivery and ended up getting his off-stump uprooted.

Hazratullah Zazai too straightaway wanted to get in action but Pat Cummins (3 for 40) was having none of it. The left-handed opener was caught behind while going for a big drive and Afghanistan were 5 for 2 before the end of the second over. The onus fell on the potential shoulders of Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi and the two did all the right things to form a 51-run stand.

While Hashmatullah was more conservative in his approach, Rahmat looked in fine form and pounced on every bad delivery. There were a couple of solid cover drives and he was equally good through the on side. The two were moving along nicely but the introduction of Adam Zampa (3 for 60) once again tilted the game in Australia's favour.

The legspinner first had Hashmatullah stumped for 18 before Rahmat hit one straight to Steve Smith at short cover when he was on 43. Mohammad Nabi's (7) run out only added more misery to Afghanistan's cause and it looked all downhill from there, but Najibullah and Naib had other ideas. Rather than taking a step back, the two batsmen decided to go after the bowlers and it caused some tension in the Australia camp.

Naib took his chances against fast bowlers while Najibullah looked for comfortable against Zampa. The latter smoked Zampa for two fours and as many sixes in four deliveries before completing his fifty with an iffy boundary off Starc's bowling. Everything was going smooth for Afghanistan before Marcus Stoinis removed both of them in the 34th over to end their stand. Both batsmen fell in a similar fashion, top-edging it to the wicketkeeper.

Following Najibullah's gutsy knock, that was studded with seven fours and two maximums, Rashid (11-ball 27) walked out all guns blazing and smoked Stoinis for 6, 4, 4 and 6 in one over to propel Afghanistan past the 200-run mark. Rashid tried to do the same with Zampa but ended up getting pinned right in front of the stumps. Cummins then cleaned up the last two wickets in no time but by then Afghanistan had something to defend.

Finch, however, walked out with intent and went after Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the first couple of overs. The skipper played most of his shots down the ground and forced Naib to take Mujeeb out of the attack. While Finch was going hard from the go, Warner was willing to spend as much time as possible. The left-hander didn't play a single risky shot and allowed Finch to dominate.

The biggest positive for Afghanistan in the bowling department was Hamid Hassan. The birthday boy was constantly hitting 90 mph and hurried both Warner and Finch on quite a few occasions. The batsmen though were able to survive that spell and it was in the 14th over Finch brought up his fifty. He smacked six fours and four sixes in his innings before falling to Naib while playing a big heave.

Meanwhile, Rashid looked completely out of rhythm and was easily tackled by Warner. It was of his Sunrisers Hyderabad's teammate bowling that Warner brought up his half-century off 74 deliveries - slowest of his career. The legspinner did get rid of Usman Khawaja for 15 but Warner made sure that he was there till the very end.

It was pretty evident what Warner wanted from this game. The 32-year-old might not have been at his brutal best but was mostly in control of his innings and the time he was able to spend in the middle is going to help him when Australia take on stronger opponents.

Like Warner, Smith who was playing his first international game since his return looked good during his 27-ball 18 before he was dismissed by Mujeeb with just three more needed. Glenn Maxwell, however, did his thing and smashed a boundary of his first ball to get the job done for Australia.

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2 India 7071 122
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4 Australia 5543 111
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