Australia have concluded their World Cup preparations by firing with the bat, experimenting with the ball and seeing off Pakistan by 14 runs in their final warm-up match at Hyderabad.
After posting 7-351, Australia mixed new-ball skill with popgun pies at the bowling crease before bowling Pakistan out for 337 at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST).
Babar Azam, the world’s No 1-ranked one-day batter, stroked a classy 90 after Pakistan’s top three – Fakhar Zaman (22), Imam-ul-Haq (16) and Abdullah Shafique (12) – failed to fire.
The departure of Shadab Khan (9) saw the score slump to 4-83 before Babar and Iftikhar Ahmed (83) rescued Pakistan’s cause with a 144-run fifth-wicket stand, benefited greatly by some park-standard offerings from Australia’s part-timers.
Marnus Labuschagne (3-78 off 8.4 overs) struck three times but struggled to find his length, Steve Smith (0-40 off four) was no threat with his experimental offspinners and David Warner (0-41 off two) mixed half-trackers with head-high full tosses.
Iftikhar’s night ended when he lofted Labuschagne to Cameron Green in the deep before Babar retired 10 short of a ton.
With 87 required from the last 13 overs, Australia’s frontline bowlers returned to test themselves in the match scenario and succeeded.
Mohammad Nawaz (50) kept Pakistan in the hunt before Labuschagne returned to the attack in the 48th over and ended the match.
Earlier, Glenn Maxwell (77) rocketed back to form with his most substantial innings in several months while Cameron Green (50no) and Josh Inglis (48) pressed their claims for World Cup middle-order berths.
The fireworks from that trio, who batted 6-7-8, helped Australia crush 103 from the final 10 overs.
Maxwell, who had missed more than six months of international cricket due to a flare-up with his previously-broken leg and the birth of his son prior to the recent series in India, started cautiously before finding his groove, thumping six sixes.
David Warner (48) and Mitchell Marsh (31) put on 83 for the first wicket and appear locked in as Australia’s first-choice openers for the World Cup. The alternative, Travis Head, is in the 15-man squad but not expected to be available until the back end of the tournament because of a fractured hand.
“We’re looking in better frame. Mitchell Marsh bowled well, same with Maxwell and Mitchell Starc,” Australian skipper Pat Cummins said.
“Just about everyone contributed in the middle, Green and Inglis were brilliant at the end.”
The World Cup kicks off on Thursday when 2019 finalists England and New Zealand meet at Ahmedabad.
Australia’s bid for a record-extending sixth World Cup victory begins on Sunday against favourites India in Chennai. The hosts had their final warm-up against Netherlands at Thiruvananthapuram washed out without a ball being bowled due to rain.