ICC World Cup: Perfect in Perth for Australia
Hurting after their recent loss to New Zealand, co-hosts Australia establish their status as contenders with 275-run win over Afghanistan, thanks to Warner's 178
Perth: David Warner scored a 133-ball 178 as Australia posted a World Cup record total of 417/6 against minnows Afganistan at the WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association ground) here last afternoon.
David Warner celebrates his century against Afghanistan yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Warner was ably assisted by Steven Smith (98-ball 95) while a quickfire 38-ball 88 by Glenn Maxwell took Australia to the tournament's third 400+ total.
Afghanistan's chase thereafter hardly mattered because they were never really expected to get to the humungous total, especially against the speedy trio of Mitchell Johnson (4-22 off 7.3 overs), Mitchell Starc (2 for 18 off six) and Josh Hazlewood (2 for 25 off eight).
And right enough, the Afghans folded up for just 142 in 37.3 overs, contributing their share of a World Cup record too — 275 runs — in the margin of defeat column.
Team's best interest
Australian captain Michael Clarke demoted himself down the order keeping the World Cup record total in mind and eventually didn't end up coming out to bat.
"I wanted to bat but thought that it was in the best interest of the team. I kept my pads on — I was in next till about 11 or 12 overs to go. Then, I thought there was an opportunity to have a crack at the world record in World Cups so (I) made the decision (to bat lower down)," Clarke said at the post-match press conference.
It was a perfect show from one of the top contenders of this World Cup, but the hosts were still hurting after that recent one-wicket defeat against trans-Tasmanian rivals New Zealand.
"It's nice to turn our form around after New Zealand. Especially with the bat, our boys played very well to score 400-plus — our highest World Cup score ever, so that's very satisfying after the way we batted (15 all out) against New Zealand," he added.
For Afghanistan, meanwhile, it was a harsh lesson learnt. Coach Andy Moles said his pacers got carried away with the bounce of the wicket and ended up bowling too short too often.
"We're not the first group of bowlers to have come here and done that (bowled short). Many teams come to Perth and unfortunately fall into the trap of bowling shorter and shorter as they see the ball carrying through to the wicketkeeper at head height.
Bowlers fall short
"We started well, bowled in good areas, went past the edge of the bat and brought our fielders in front of the wicket into the game.
Unfortunately, when went on to bowl too short and then you take out your fielders in front of the wicket because it's going square of the wicket. So, it's a disappointment and we've got to learn from that," said Moles.
No one can point a particular fault in the opposition when batsmen of David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Steven Smith's calibre are in top form. However, more than their bowling, minnows Afghanistan were let down by their lacklustre fielding. They missed a run out of Smith early in his innings, following which he went on to make 95 to help Australia pile on a mammoth 417 which was essentially the point of no return for the Afghanistan batsmen.
Star of match
Former Australia player Michael Bevan said that at one point of time, Warner became impossible to bowl to. He was not wrong when he said that. After a few nervous moments at the start, he took the Afghanistan bowling to the cleaners by carting them all around the park. His 178 was the highest by an Aussie in World Cup matches.
This was Australia's first ODI win after scoring 400. The last time they scored over 400 runs (434 vs South Africa), the Proteas chased the score down to win by one wicket
The number of balls played by Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell and David Warner together against Australia yesterday. The rest of the Australian batsmen played only 33 balls