Warner and Smith make a mark

David Warner smashed an encouraging 39 (43, 6×4, 1×6) with the bat and Steve Smith (22, 43b) took a brilliant catch in the field as the pair savoured a victorious return to the Australia fold in a World Cup warm-up against a New Zealand XI on Monday.

Wearing Australian colours for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal in March, 2018, Smith and Warner were greeted warmly by a small crowd in Brisbane, where Aaron Finch’s team took a one-wicket win. Finch top-scored for the host with 52.

Warner’s knock, coupled with Usman Khawaja’s cheap dismissal for four, is likely to fuel the debate as to Australia’s ideal opening partnership for its title defence in England.

Former skipper Smith was less assured with the bat but made an early impression in the field when he dived for a superb one-handed catch to remove Tom Latham.

Set 216 for victory after bowling New Zealand out in 46.1 overs, Australia’s tail-enders held their nerve to close out the win.

Australia seamers Pat Cummins, Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile all took three wickets against New Zealand, which was missing regular skipper Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill and Trent Boult because of IPL commitments.

Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell were rested for the first of the three unofficial warm-ups against New Zealand.

The scores: New Zealand XI 215 in 46.1 overs (Blundell 77, Young 60, Behrendorff three for 34, Cummins three for 36, Coulter-Nile three for 44) lost to Australian XI 219 for nine in 48.2 overs (Finch 52, Warner 39, Henry three for 40).


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