Australia, Afghanistan clinch World Cup warm-up victories

ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023

ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023

Australia showcased their mettle by edging out Pakistan by 14 runs in a thrilling encounter that set the stage for an action-packed tournament opener, while Afghanistan displayed their prowess by defeating Sri Lanka.

Australia defeat Pakistan by 14 runs

Australia’s captain, Pat Cummins, won the toss and opted to bat, a decision that would prove pivotal in the end.

The Australia innings ignited with David Warner’s explosive start, as he blazed his way to a scintillating 48 runs off just 33 balls.

Marnus Labuschagne played a stylish knock, contributing 40 runs, while Glenn Maxwell’s fireworks lit up the innings with a blazing 77 off 57 deliveries. Cameron Green (50*) and Josh Inglis (48) also added crucial runs to the scoreboard. Australia’s collective effort saw them post an imposing 351/7 from their allotted 50 overs.

Pakistan commenced their chase with Fakhar Zaman (22) and Imam-ul-Haq (16) providing a solid foundation. However, consistent breakthroughs by the Australian bowlers, led by Cummins, kept the game finely balanced.

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Captain Babar Azam’s brilliance was on full display as he arrived at No.6, accumulating a scintillating 90 runs before retiring. Despite his heroics, Pakistan found the required run rate climbing steadily. Iftikhar Ahmed’s valiant 83 and Mohammad Nawaz’s explosive 50 kept Pakistan’s hopes alive.

Labuschagne, who had already impressed with the bat, turned out to be Australia’s key contributor with the ball as well. His crucial wickets, along with Maxwell’s handy off-spin, added pressure on the Pakistan batting order. Mitchell Marsh provided valuable support as Australia managed to peg back Pakistan and bowled them out in 47.4 overs.

Afghanistan defeat Sri Lanka by six wickets

In the other warm-up game, Afghanistan cruised to victory in a rain affected match courtesy of a superb century from Rahmanullah Gurbaz (119) and a stylish 93 from Rahmat Shah.

Sri Lanka posted a respectable total of 294 on the back of an excellent 158 from Kusal Mendis and Gurbaz and Rahmat put on a partnership of 212 to quickly turn the game Afghanistan’s way.

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Afghanistan’s victory total was reduced to just 257 in 42 overs due to rain and the pair went about their business in style as they helped chase down the target with more than three overs remaining.

Gurbaz smashed nine sixes during his entertaining stay, while Rahmat contributed three as Afghanistan warmed up for the tournament with an impressive victory.

The third warm-up match scheduled for Tuesday between India and the Netherlands was abandoned without a delivery bowled because of rain.