Men’s ODI WC: Australia and Afghanistan pick up wins as warm-up matches come to an end

New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS): Australia overcame Pakistan in a thriller on the final day of Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 warm-up matches. Elsewhere, Afghanistan won a rain-affected clash against Sri Lanka and the elements also proved troublesome in Thiruvananthapuram, where India’s scheduled clash with the Netherlands was washed out.

At Hyderabad, Glenn Maxwell struck 77 in Australia’s 351 for seven while Marnus Labuschagne contributed with bat and ball as Pakistan fell 14 runs short despite 90 from captain Babar Azam.

Australia made a rapid start having chosen to bat, David Warner dominating an opening stand of 83 before falling for a 33-ball 48 in the 13th over. Mitchell Marsh (38), Steve Smith (27) and Marnus Labuschagne (40) all made starts before Maxwell seized control of the middle overs.

The all-rounder brought up his half century with one of six sixes, eventually making 77 from 71 deliveries before he was dismissed by Shadab Khan. Josh Inglis (48) and Cameron Green (50*) kept the momentum going, adding 83 in eight overs for the seventh wicket to carry Australia to a daunting total as Pakistan’s death bowlers suffered, Haris Rauf’s nine overs costing 97.

Pakistan’s reply was faltering at 82 for four before a fine stand by Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed brought them right back into the contest. The skipper struck a typically fluent 90 from just 59 balls while Iftikhar struck six fours and four sixes in his 83 before becoming Labuschagne’s second scalp, leaving his side 227 for five.

Labuschagne then put down Mohammad Nawaz off the bowling of Marsh with the batter going well on 38 as the run chase went deep, but the seamer got his man for 50 shortly afterwards as Warner held on to a routine chance at third man. That left Pakistan needing 26 from four overs but Labuschagne returned to take the final wicket, Hasan Ali picking out Marsh at long-off.

Meanwhile, Kusal Mendis’ sparkling century was not enough to earn Sri Lanka victory as a Rahmanullah Gurbaz-inspired Afghanistan won a rain-affected clash in Guwahati. Batting first, Mendis arrived at the crease following the early departure of Dimuth Karunaratne and was quickly into his stride.

The 18th over was particularly punishing, Mendis taking 18 from it including three consecutive boundaries, and he quickly moved to a 59-ball century. With his score on 158, including 19 fours and six sixes, Mendis retired at the end of the 30th over and Afghanistan fought back with the ball thereafter, Mohammad Nabi claiming four for 44 – including two in two balls in the 39th over – as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 294 with 22 balls unused.

Kasun Rajitha claimed the scalp of Ibrahim Zadran amid a miserly opening spell which saw his five overs cost just two runs, but Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rahmat Shah proved much tougher to dislodge. The pair’s century stand came either side of a rain delay, after which the target was adjusted to 257 from 42 overs, and kicked on in style as the target loomed into view.

Rahmanullah was first to three figures, hitting three sixes in the 31st over before clearing the ropes three times in succession in the next, which also saw him bring up his century. He and Rahmat both retired shortly after, as Azmatullah Omarzai hit the winning runs with 23 balls to spare.

But the weather was not kind in Thiruvananthapuram through the warm-up fixtures and the theme sadly continued on Tuesday. India’s match with the Netherlands was abandoned without a ball being bowled, leaving both to now focus on their World Cup openers. The hosts begin against Australia on Sunday, with Netherlands opening up against Pakistan on Friday.

Brief Scores: Australia 351/7 in 50 overs (Glenn Maxwell 77, Cameron Green 50 not out; Usama Mir 2-31, Mohammad Nawaz 1-34) beat Pakistan 337 in 47.4 overs (Babar Azam 90, Iftikhar Ahmed 83; Marnus Labuschagne 3-78, Pat Cummins 2-34) by 14 runs

Sri Lanka 294 in 46.2 overs (Kusal Mendis 158, Pathum Nissanka 30; Mohammad Nabi 4-44, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 1-25) lost to Afghanistan 261/4 in 38.1 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 119, Rahmat Shah 93; Kasun Rajitha 1-18, Lahiru Kumara 1-58) by six wickets (DLS method)



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Title: Men’s ODI WC: Australia and Afghanistan pick up wins as warm-up matches come to an end

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