04 March 2015
Australia marches to record win
Smashing knocks from Warner, Smith, Maxwell in 417/6 total against Afghanistan before bowlers ensure 275-run win
David Warner's stellar 178 help set up Australia's massive 275-run win over Afghanistan
Thankful for Mohammad Nabi sticking it in, Australia racked up 417 for 6, the highest total in World Cup play. That tally came on the back of David Warner’s muscular strokeplay, Steve Smith’s polish and Glenn Maxwell’s unalloyed pyrotechnics. The bowlers then joined hands to fire Afghanistan out for 142 and set up a 275-run victory. It was both Australia’s biggest victory margin, and the biggest margin by runs in all World Cup action.
Afghanistan rode its luck early on against Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood with Javed Ahmadi and Usman Ghani, coming in for Gulbadin Naib, surviving six testing overs in getting to 30. But Mitchell Johnson arrived as first change in the seventh over to loud cheers from the crowd, and packed Ghani off with his third delivery. Ahmadi steered Hazlewood to second slip in the next over and Asghar Stanikzai, three strokes a ball, put Johnson up for Smith to run back from gully toward third man and cling on to a superb catch.
Nawroz Mangal presented poise in the middle. The man who idolises Sachin Tendulkar played two drives down the ground that would have made the master proud, then swung Mitchell Marsh for consecutive sixes as he and Samiullah Shenwari, Afghanistan’s most consistent batsman in the competition, strung together 48 for the fourth wicket. But both fell at the same score in the space of four deliveries; from 94 for 5, it was a tough challenge for Afghanistan.
In the afternoon, Warner had threatened to become men’s One-Day International cricket’s fifth double-centurion before falling for a most spectacular 178, Smith looked on course to become the second centurion of the innings until he holed out for 95, and Maxwell thoroughly entertained the audience with the kind of manic ball-striking that he alone is capable of.
Fours (36) and sixes (14) tumbled off Aussies willows with tremendous regularity. Afghanistan’s two lead bowlers, Dawlat and Shapoor Zadran, went for 101 and 89 respectively in their 10 overs, and Nabi’s offspin yielded 84.
For all that, Dawlat had begun pretty promisingly, bowling fuller, and got beautiful shape away from Aaron Finch. He rounded off an excellent second over by forcing Finch to edge a flat-footed drive at a lovely awayswinger that was well held low to his left at first slip by Mangal. Australia 14 for 1, enter Smith at No. 3 – Shane Watson was dropped to accommodate James Faulkner.
Smith was an almost invisible presence as Warner hogged the strike, and the limelight. Warner completed his fourth ODI hundred in 92 deliveries, then upped the pace as 78 came off his last 41. Smith, meanwhile, bridged the gap between balls faced and runs scored with a series of boundaries off Shenwari.
Their partnership had burgeoned to an Australian record 260 with Warner four hits away from Club 200 when Shapoor eventually broke through, Nabi circling around a giant skier at midwicket and holding on to an excellent catch.
Smith was overshadowed for the second time in as many stands when Maxwell arrived in a frenzy of strokeplay. It was here at the WACA, a little over a month back, that Maxwell had regained form in the tri-series final against England. That was a restrained innings, in deference to the match situation; here, he had the license to pummel away.
The reverse hits were both audacious and awe-inspiring, the driving down the ground and over the ropes mesmeric. Fielders on the boundary were reduced to mere spectators as the ball disappeared way over their heads into the crowds.
Smith had been dismissed for 95, giving Shapoor a second wicket of the day, but Maxwell stayed on course for his maiden – and the World Cup’s fastest – hundred until Dawlat foxed him with a back-of-the-hand slower one that was smartly held by Nabi at cover. By then, he had clattered along to 88 off 39. Afghanistan had conceded 118 in the last 10 overs and Australia had passed India’s 413 for 5 in 2007 against Bermuda. Only the formalities remained.
Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre, watch all the video clips from the game, review the scorecard and all of the match coverage.
Batsmen take Bangladesh to six-wicket win
Amla, du Plessis sparkle in big win