2019 Cricket World Cup: Afghanistan seen off by clinical Australia

2019 Cricket World Cup: Afghanistan seen off by clinical Australia

David Warner steers his side home with impressive 89* after a disciplined bowling display

groomy99
Jack Groom

Australia produced a top-order blitz to comprehensively beat Afghanistan by seven wickets in Bristol .

Led by Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, who took three wickets apiece, Australia reduced their opponents to 5-2 and 77-5 at various points of the innings before finally bowling them out for 207 after a counter-attacking display from the Afghani middle order.

However there was never any cause for panic despite losing three wickets in their chase, with David Warner - playing his first competitive game for his country since being banned for a year for his part in the ball-tampering affair of 2018 - seeing his side easily over the line with an unbeaten 89. 

Lower order ensures competitive total

In the face of the Australian pace battery, the opening Afghani batsmen were unable to put up much of a fight.

Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai were both dismissed without scoring - bowled by Mitchell Starc (1-31) and caught behind off Cummins respectively - as the Aussies flexed their bowling muscle.

The fightback fell to Rahmat Shah, who played confidently for his 43 as he dispatched six boundaries.

However, when he was dismissed by Zampa and Mohammad Nabi then run out six balls later to take the score to 77-5, it looked as if Afghanistan were following the example of Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the previous two games of the competition in being dismissed cheaply.

Yet Najibullah Zadran - promoted four places from his regular position of number eleven - then launched an enterprising attack, smashing seven fours and two sixes to reach 51.

He shared a partnership of 83 with his captain Gulbadin Naib before finally succumbing to Marcus Stoinis (2-37).

Having lost three wickets for six runs upon Najibullah's dismissal, it looked like any momentum gathered during that positive partnership was being swiftly removed.

However Rashid Khan (27 off 11) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (13 off nine) both took the attack back to the Australian bowlers late on, smiting three fours and three sixes between them as they strived to eek out any final runs.

Warner reminds the world of his class

With such a powerful batting line up, this modest score was extremely unlikely to pose too challenging for Australia, and so it proved.

Openers Warner and Finch set the tone perfectly, the duo rarely troubled in their 96-run partnership.

Australian captain Finch was the more offensive of the two, utilising his raw strength to produce a number of lusty blows over the leg-side boundary in his 49-ball 66, including six fours and four sixes.

On the other hand, the usually explosive Warner was much more sedate, content to block and nudge the ball as opposed to his more preferred method of all-out power.

He batted smartly to ensure he saw his side over the line, and in truth it appeared at times that Warner and his colleagues were rarely, if ever, tested.

Upon Finch's dismissal to Gulbadin (1-32), Usman Khawaja (15) and Steve Smith (18) swiftly came and went, falling to the spin of Rashid and Mujeeb respectively, meaning it was left to Glenn Maxwell to see it through with Warner.

The all-rounder hit his first and only ball faced for four to get his country off to the perfect star, and ensure they head into Thursday's clash with the West Indies full of confidence.

As for Afghanistan, they will look to bounce back in style against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, with both sides yet to get off the mark.

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