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Cricket Fans Dress as Sandpaper to Troll Warner and Smith During World Cup Match

David Warner and Steve Smith, who returned to the side and played their first international game for Australia after serving a 12-month ban for the involvement in the ball-tampering scandal, were booed and taunted throughout the match on Saturday.

Anurag Verma | News18.com

Updated:June 2, 2019, 11:57 AM IST
Cricket Fans Dress as Sandpaper to Troll Warner and Smith During World Cup Match
File image (Getty). Sandpaper image tweeted by @muraliii.

Australian coach Justin Langer's pleas to not boo David Warner and Steve Smith ahead of the World Cup tournament went in vain as the fans in attendance at County Ground in Bristol booed, taunted, and mocked the Aussies when they opened their campaign against Afghanistan on Saturday.

Warner, who returned to the side and played his first international game in green and golden after serving a 12-month ban for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in a Test against South Africa in 2018, let his bat do the talking.

With his intentions and mind clear, the 32-year-old southpaw announced his comeback with a match-winning and unbeaten 89, taking Australia to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Afghanistan.

The Aussie's presence on the field was, however, not much appreciated by some seated at County Ground, who on several occasions, jeered and chanted against Warner for his role in the Sandpaper Gate that rattled the cricket community last year.

He was booed when he came out to bat. He was booed when he hit his first boundary. He was booed when he was awarded the Man of the Match for 114-ball 89.

Former Aussie captain Steve Smith, who was a part of ball-tampering controversy, also faced the wrath of the unwelcoming crowds.

To rub salt in their wounds, two spectators, dressed in sandpaper outfits and holding a giant image of a cricket ball, stood in the ground's balcony furthering the mockery.

Unfazed, Warner kept his nerves and scored his slowest-ever half-century in ODIs before shifting gears.

Earlier, Afghanistan chose to bat first and bowed down to Australia's intimidating bowling unit. The side, however, picked themselves up from 77 for 5 following Najibullah Zadran's 51 and skipper Gulbadin Naib's 31.

The duo added 83 runs for the sixth wicket before Rashid Khan arrived at the scene to push Afghanistan to a modest 207.

The five-time World Cup champions got off to a solid start from openers Aaron Finch and Warner. The Aussie captain Finch smacked a 49-ball 66, while Warner's determined knock helped Australia register their ninth successive win in ODIs.

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