Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Opener David Warner struck an unbeaten 89 as Australia kicked off their World Cup campaign with a comfortable seven-wicket win over Afghanistan.
Warner’s knock comes in his first international match since his 12-month ban for the ball tampering scandal.
Opting to bat first, Afghanistan got off to a horrible start as opener Mohammad Shahzad was clean bowled by Mitchell Starc for a duck.
Shahzad’s opening partner, Hazratullah Zazai, failed to trouble the scorers as well as he was caught behind off the bowling of Pat Cummins.
Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah stabilised the innings with a 51-run partnership before Shahidi was stumped by Alex Carey off the bowling of Adam Zampa for 18.
Rahmat went on to score 43 before he was caught at cover by Steve Smith, who was also returning to international cricket after his involvement in the ball tampering scandal, off the bowling of Zampa.
Another sharp piece of fielding by Smith saw Mohammad Nabi get run out for seven runs.
Najibullah Zadran and captain Gulbadin Naib halted Australia’s charge with an 83-run partnership, during which Najibullah brought up his fifty, before Naib was caught behind off the bowling of Marcus Stoinis for 31.
Stoinis struck again four balls later as Najibullah suffered the same fate as Naib after scoring 51, which came off 49 balls and included seven boundaries and two sixes.
Afghanistan’s lower order collapsed after Najibullah’s dismissal, but with Rashid Khan hammering an 11-ball 27, they reached 207 before being bowled out.
Cummins and Zampa picked up three wickets apiece, while Stoinis snapped up two and Starc chipped in with one.
Chasing 208 to win, Australia got off to an excellent start as captain Aaron Finch and Warner amassed a 96-run partnership.
Finch, who made a half-century during the stand, ended up being caught by Mujeeb Ur Rahman at deep cover off the bowling of Naib for 66, which came off 49 balls and included six boundaries and four sixes.
Warner and Khawaja added 60 runs to the score, during which Warner registered his fifty, before Khawaja was trapped lbw off the bowling of Rashid for 15.
Even though Smith also fell for 18, Warner guided Australia to victory with his unbeaten knock of 89, which came off 114 balls and included eight boundaries.
Naib, Rashid and Mujeeb claimed one wicket each.
Warner was named Man of the Match.