David Warner and Mitchell Marsh symbolised Australia’s insatiability with the bat and Adam Zampa’s relentlessness with the ball as the five-time champions registered a revitalising 62-run win over Pakistan in the World Cup match in Bengaluru on Friday. Brutal hundreds by Warner (163 off 124 balls) and Marsh (121 off 108 balls) led Australia to an imposing 367 for 9. Pakistan batters fought valiantly but could only manage 305 as leg-spinner Zampa (4/53) inflicted blows at vital junctions. Australia need to profusely thank both Warner, who hammered his 21st ODI hundred, and Marsh, his second ton, for keeping their World Cup campaign on track with a blistering assault.
The Aussie openers amassed 259 runs in just 203 balls, and it was only the fourth instance in World Cup history that both openers notched centuries in the same match.
Australia needed a dominant show to spruce up their confidence after three middling efforts that fetched two defeats and a win in this tournament, and they did it with a bang.
The only spanner in their easy rollicking was left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, whose five-wicket haul (5/54) was just a sad reminder as to what other Pakistan bowlers could have done with a bit of thinking.
Warner, who was dropped twice on 10 and 105, and Marsh were at their marauding best against a Pakistan attack that lacked direction on a smooth M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch with a quick outfield adding value to their shots.
They were either too full, too short or strayed on to the leg side, and the Aussie batters did not need any second invitation to exploit the flowing freebies.
All this could have been a tad different for Pakistan had Usama Mir, who replaced Shadab Khan, held on to a simple skier from Warner off Afridi, whose clever variations were a treat to watch, inside the ring.
Warner was on 10 then in Australia’s total of 22.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam gave the ball to Haris Rauf in the ninth over, hoping for a breakthrough. But the Aussies slipped into the top gear precisely from that over.
The right-arm pacer was carted for 24 runs in his first over. Warner started the carnage with a four and six and Marsh finished it with three fours in succession.
Thereafter, Australia’s run-rate hardly came under seven for the rest of the innings.
Hasan Ali found some early movement away from Marsh, but Warner took him head on with a series of pulls and flicks, including a monster six that thudded on to the roof.
Pakistan pressed their spinners Mir and left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawas into service but they made zero impact.
They were quite unimaginative, and just kept feeding both Warner and Marsh, who preferred the ground route early on in his innings, with short balls which were effortlessly put away.
Australia notched up their 100 in the 13th over, 200th in the 30th over and 300 in the 41st over as their run machine marched forward inexorably.
Warner brought up his hundred, fourth consecutive against Pakistan in ODIs, with a single off Mir, and the signature jump-and-punch celebration followed to the joy of a near full house of crowd, that encouraged both the sides.
Birthday boy Marsh followed his senior partner soon in reaching the three-figure mark with a boundary off Mir, and he celebrated the landmark with a mighty roar.
Marsh departed soon when his flick off Afridi was snaffled by Mir at short fine leg, a rare occasion for a Pakistan fielder to hold on to a catch on a day when they dropped three catches along with numerous other fumbles on the field.
He walked back only after helping Warner to realise the second-best opening stand in World Cups after 282 between Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga in 2011.
Post Marsh’s dismissal, Pakistan did manage to pluck some quick wickets — in fact 8 of them for 108 runs to restrict Australia under 400 which once seemed a genuine possibility.
Even then, 369 was a steep mountain. But there was this underlying fearlessness and efficiency with which Pakistan approached their chase.
Openers Imam-ul-Haq, who at times reminds of his legendary uncle Inzamam-ul-Haq with his neat timing and crisp shots, made his first fifty (70 off 71 balls) of this tournament, while Abdullah Shafique (64 off 61 balls) continued his fine touch after coming in for injured Fakhar Zaman.
Together, they milked 134 effortless runs in 127 balls. Of course, they were helped by a drop each as well.
Imam was dropped on 48 by Pat Cummins off Glenn Maxwell, while Shafique was given a life by substitute Sean Abbot off Cummins on 27.
However, Marcus Stoinis, who was not afraid to dig the ball into the pitch to get some bounce, got rid of both Imam and Shafique in rather quick succession and leg-spinner Zampa snaffled the prized wicket of Babar as Pakistan seemed to have hit the slide button.
But, Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel added 56 runs off 48 balls to keep Pakistan steady as Aussies tried to apply constant pressure in the middle overs.
Their effort eventually paid off as Zampa got the wickets of both Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed with skidders that both the batters failed to read, ending up as leg-before victims.
Those dismissals also ended any hopes Pakistan entertained to enact a miracle.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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