CWC 2019: AUS vs PAK Review – Warner ton propels Australia to victory

That jump in the air. That kiss on the helmet. That jubilant celebration. That grin from ear-to-ear. After two days of persistent rain and washouts, the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England could’ve done with a welcome hundred at the picturesque Taunton. And who better than the resurgent David Warner?

Warner’s brilliant hundred and fine bowling performances from the pacers helped Australia return to winning ways. Pakistan came close, very close. A sensational bowling display from Mohammad Amir put the brakes on the Aussie batsmen. Their batters started off well, lost steam in the middle but were reignited with a Wahab Riaz blinder at the closing stage. Australia though, trusted their main men Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to do the job.

Warner-Finch pile on

The initial passage of play was fascinating. Pakistan’s pace attack tested the Australian openers on what looked like a ‘green top’. In the first 10 overs, Australia scored only 56 runs. It was a matter of time before both batsmen accelerated. Aaron Finch continued his impressive run against Pakistan, bringing up another ODI fifty. Alongside Warner, he added 146 runs for the 1st wicket (highest of the tournament so far), before Amir came back to get rid of the dangerous Finch.

Warner continued to torment the bowlers from one end even as wickets kept tumbling at the other. The southpaw found his rhythm after a few hiccups and went on to score his 15th ODI hundred. Australia’s move to promote Glenn Maxwell at No.3 didn’t quite pay off though. Together with Amir, Shaheen Afridi returned with a fiery spell to restrict the Aussies to 307, who looked set for 350-plus. Australia would’ve felt they were at least 50 runs short.

Butterfingers, DRS, mishits – oh Pakistan!

The last thing you want to do when your bowlers are dishing out fireballs is to drop their catches. Asif Ali found himself dropping sitters on two occasions – Finch (26) at slips and Warner (104) at third man. If that wasn’t enough, Pakistan went horribly wrong with their review, couldn’t affect run-outs and also ended up giving no-ball freebies. Given how their pacers bowled in the first hour of play, it was a shame they couldn’t convert the missed chances.

Amir fifer rattles Australia

Even as the rest of the bowlers were being smashed all around the park, Mohammad Amir reaped rich dividends of a disciplined bowling effort. He got Pakistan their first breakthrough by dismissing Finch and then ripped through the middle order. Australia were cruising at 223/2 until the 34th over but could score just 84 runs in the next 15, losing 8 wickets. Amir registered his best bowling figures of 5/30 – his maiden ODI fifer and joined the elite list of Pakistani bowlers to take five-wicket hauls in the World Cup.

So close, yet so far

Against the West Indies, Pakistan folded like a lawn chair. Against England, the same team blasted their way to victory. Against Australia, Pakistan turned up in parts. The first 40 overs of the Australian innings had nothing for them, but Amir brought them back with a bang in the last 10. Chasing 308, they lost their top 3 (best 3) in the first quarter. From overs 26 to 30, they lost as many as 4 wickets. Hassan Ali (32 off 15) and Wahab Riaz (45 off 39) hung in there, giving their team and the fans a reason to believe. And so did captain Sarfaraz Ahmed with resilient 40. But Starc’s guile and the experience of closing games at the death were too much for the Pakistani tail.

Fun fact

None of the teams featured a frontline spinner in the playing XI of this match.

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