ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Warner top scores as Aussies cruise to win
Opener scores 89no as defending champs claim seven-wicket success over Afghans
Louis Cameron at Bristol County Ground
2 June 2019, 09:00 AM AEST
David Warner emphatically announced his return to international cricket on Saturday, as he led Australia to a comprehensive win over a spirited Afghanistan to open their World Cup campaign.
Having overcome a glute injury that had threatened to keep him out of the match, Warner posted 89no off 114 balls after a 96-run opening stand with skipper Aaron Finch (66 off 49) that laid the foundation for the successful chase.
Warner, whose efforts saw him named player of the match, and Steve Smith (18) were booed and heckled incessantly by the Bristol crowd during their 49-run stand that all but sealed the seven-wicket win, despite coach Justin Langer's pre-match pleas to show the pair "respect".
The reigning world champions reeled in their target of 208 with 15.1 overs to spare.
Finch, who passed fifty for the fifth time in six ODI innings, was initially the more fluent of Australia's openers, hitting four sixes in a 40-ball half-century.
Warner, on the other hand, was troubled by paceman Hamid Hassan early on and was inches away from being run out on 19 in bizarre fashion when he lost sight of a mishit that had rolled slowly back to the wicketkeeper.
But the 32-year-old translated the "hungry" look in his eyes his teammates have spoken of recently into runs, scampering between the wickets in trademark fashion as he gradually got on top of Afghanistan's bowlers.
He hit just eight fours in his unbeaten knock.
Afghanistan's rollercoaster batting innings saw them recover from losing both openers for ducks and slumping to 2-5, as No.7 Najibullah Zadran (51 off 49 balls), first drop Rahmat Shah (43 off 60) and tailender Rashid Khan (27 off 11) took on Australia's short-ball barrage.
But their inability to temper aggression against a pace-heavy Australian attack resulted in a host of skied catches and saw them lose 5-47 to be bundled for 207 with 70 balls still left in the innings.
Pat Cummins (3-40 off 8.2 overs) and Adam Zampa (3-60 off eight) took a combined six wickets in the rout, while wicketkeeper Alex Carey claimed four catches and a stumping – one short of the dismissal record for a World Cup innings.
Key man Rashid Khan bounced back from an expensive start to trap Usman Khawaja lbw for 15, though his side desperately needed a better return from him than the 1-52 from the eight overs that he finished with.
Rashid had earlier entertained the lively crowd, most of whom were supporting the underdogs, at the batting crease. Despite having recently had his best bat, a gift from Virat Kohli, 'stolen' from him, he managed to find a replacement piece of willow to hit three sixes and take 21 off one Marcus Stoinis over.
Zampa also went for a big over, with Zadran smashing him for 22 off his seventh set to blow out his figures. His three scalps – Rahmat, Rashid and No.4 Hasmatullah Shahidi (18 off 34) – all proved vital however.
In Starc's last World Cup game, the 2015 final against New Zealand, he needed five balls to hit Brendon McCullum's timber. Here he needed only three, as portly cult hero Mohammad Shahzad was beaten for pace and bowled for a duck in the first over of the match.
Five balls later Cummins removed fellow opener Hazratullah Zazai for a two-ball globe when an airy swing found the edge and the gloves of Carey.
There had been question marks over whether Smith's elbow, which he had surgery on earlier this year, would affect him diving and throwing during this World Cup, but a tumbling catch to remove Rahmat and then his run-out of Mohammad Nabi showed he's still a world-class fielder.
Nabi foolishly set off for a quick single after nudging one to the left of Smith, who made a superb save and returned the ball to Carey to have the experienced allrounder well short of his ground.
Skipper Gulbadin Naib and Zadran were dismissed within three balls of another in identical fashion after an 83-run partnership that had rescued the Afghans from 5-77, both offering simple skied catches to Carey off Stoinis short balls.
Rashid's fireworks aside, the rest of the Afghanistan tail folded meekly as Cummins and Zampa returned to take the final three wickets.
Finch's dismissal was of one of the few misteps the Australian captain made in his innings, with the Aussies only losing two more wickets – Khawaja and then Smith to a loose stroke off Mujeeb – before Glenn Maxwell hit a four off his first ball to ice the win.
The Aussies will likely face a sterner test on Thursday when they take on two-time champions West Indies at Trent Bridge.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa
Afghanistan XI: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Hazrat Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib (c), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE