David Warner hit an unbeaten half-century on his official return to international cricket on Saturday as Australia romped home by seven wickets in its opener against Afghanistan.
The five-time champion bowled out Afghanistan out for 207 in 38.2 overs on a warm day and then made steady progress, reaching the target with more than 15 overs to spare. Warner was unbeaten on 89.
“It’s good to be back and it’s a good win for us,” said Man-of-the-Match Warner at the presentation ceremony. “There were nerves getting back into the camp and getting back into the full intensity of training, but to come out and bowl the way we did helped us set the tone with the bat. There’s a great buzz about this team at this moment.”
Aaron Finch set the tone, reaching his fifty off 40 balls with three sixes. Warner, not at his belligerent best, had a narrow escape when he was on 19, scrambling back after chopping a delivery and losing sight of the ball as wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad whipped off the bails.
The breakthrough finally came in the 17th over when Finch mistimed a slower ball from Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib and holed out to Mujeeb Ur Rahman at deep cover. Warner played watchfully during the early part of his innings but found his touch as he neared his fifty, reaching the mark off 74 balls and raising his bat to a chorus of boos.
The dismissal of Usman Khawaja by Rashid Khan brought Smith to the wicket and he too was booed. Smith was dismissed tamely, caught by Hazratullah Zazai off Mujeeb for 18 with the end in sight and had to endure more boos and shouts of “cheat” as he left the field.
Earlier, Naib had taken the bold decision to bat, but the move backfired, with openers Mohammad Shahzad and Zazai departing for ducks.
Rahmat Shah (43) and Hashmatullah Shahidi led the fightback, putting on 51 for the third wicket. However, the team was reduced to 77 for five before Najibullah Zadran hit a half-century off 46 balls with an edge over slip off a sharp Mitchell Starc bouncer. He was dismissed for 51. Rashid Khan’s late flourish took the team past 200, but Afghanistan was all out with more than 11 overs remaining.
Mohammad Shahzad b Starc 0 (3b), Hazratullah Zazai c Carey b Cummins 0 (2b), Rahmat Shah c Smith b Zampa 43 (60b, 6×4), Hashmatullah Shahidi st. Carey b Zampa 18 (34b, 3×4), Mohammad Nabi run out 7 (22b), Gulbadin Naib c Carey b Stoinis 31 (33b, 4×4, 1×6), Najibullah Zadran c Carey b Stoinis 51 (49b, 7×4, 2×6), Rashid Khan lbw b Zampa 27 (11b, 2×4, 3×6), Dawlat Zadran c Carey b Cummins 4 (6b, 1×4), Mujeeb ur Rahman b Cummins 13 (9b, 1×4, 1×6), Hamid Hassan (not out) 1 (2b); Extras (lb-3, nb-1, w-8): 12; Total (in 38.2 overs): 207.
FALL OF WICKETS
1-0 (Shahzad, 0.3 overs), 2-5 (Zazai, 1.2), 3-56 (Shahidi, 13.5), 4-75 (Rahmat, 19.2), 5-77 (Nabi, 20.2), 6-160 (Naib, 33.1), 7-162 (Najibullah, 33.5), 8-166 (Dawlat, 34.6), 9-205 (Rashid, 37.3).
Starc 7-1-31-1, Cummins 8.2-0-40-3, Coulter-Nile 8-1-36-0, Stoinis 7-1-37-2, Zampa 8-0-60-3.
Aaron Finch c Mujeeb b Naib 66 (49b, 6×4, 4×6), David Warner (not out) 89 (114b, 8×4), Usman Khawaja lbw b Rashid 15 (20b, 1×4), Steve Smith c Zazai b Mujeeb 18 (27b, 1×4), Glenn Maxwell (not out) 4 (1b, 1×4); Extras (lb-1, nb-2, w-14): 17; Total (for three wkts. in 34.5 overs): 209.
FALL OF WICKETS
1-96 (Finch, 16.2 overs), 2-156 (Khawaja, 24.6), 3-205 (Smith, 34.4).
Mujeeb 4.5-0-45-1, Hassan 6-2-15-0, Dawlat 5-0-32-0, Naib 5-0-32-1, Nabi 6-0-32-0, Rashid 8-0-52-1.
Toss: Afghanistan. MoM: Warner.
Australia won by seven wickets with 91 balls remaining.