Fans were left fuming after batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith’s expensive bowling spells during the final warm-up match between Australia and Pakistan in Hyderabad ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.
Australian captain Pat Cummins handed the ball in the middle overs of the second innings to the unlikely duo of Warner and Smith – clearly wanting to give some rest to his regular bowlers – when Australia took on Pakistan in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
If the goal was to win Australia’s last warm-up match ahead of the start of the tournament on Thursday, it wasn’t one of Cummins’s best decisions. At one point, Pakistan were struggling at 83 for 4, but the spells by the part-time bowlers allowed Babar Azam and Co to get back into the contest.
While Smith was hit for 40 runs in four overs, Warner fared worst of the two as he leaked 41 runs in just two. But the left-handed batter, who had not bowled in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) since 2012, was denied a rare wicket when Josh Inglis dropped a catch at long-on, gifting Pakistan’s Iftikhar Ahmed an extra life at 43.
Watching the two talented batters get thrashed all over the Rajeev Gandhi International Stadium left some cricket fans confused and frustrated.
“Warm up matches have been nothing less than a mockery of the world cup. Pakistan is leading the way by playing nonsensical cricket. David Warner and Steve Smith are bowling and still AUS wins. It’s an absolute mockery of the Pak team. They seem to be more interested in making friends and eating biryani,” Smit Shah wrote on X.
“David Warner marking the end of the county championship with some tribute bowling,” quipped another X user.
“This was probably David Warner’s last over ever in any form of cricket,” wrote Sameer Allana.
“Felt like playing in front of the home crowd. Had some time in the middle with the ball. Inglis had a rough time. Am extremely happy with my batting. In a good space,” said Warner after Australia’s 14-run win.
Iftikhar went on to score 83 off 85, including four sixes and six fours before falling to leg-spinner Marnus Labuschagne. Even though the Queenslander claimed three wickets in his spell of 8.4 overs, he bled 78 runs.
Azam, meanwhile, struck 11 boundaries and two sixes before leaving retired hurt in the 36th over. A quick half-century from Mohammad Nawaz dragged Pakistan towards their target of 352. Nawaz also survived once, when he was on 38, thanks to a dropped catch from Labuschagne that denied Mitchell Marsh a wicket.
Eventually, Australia bowled Pakistan out for 337. The Aussies would have been able to end the match much sooner had Cummins not picked Warner and Smith to bowl a few overs and had not asked Labuschagne to bowl more overs than any other Aussie bowler.
Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, meanwhile, backed Cummins’s decision to try out the likes of Smith, Warner, and Labuschagne with the ball. During the post-match presser, Maxwell said that Australia wanted to test the tough conditions and see what worked and what didn’t for them ahead of the World Cup.
Maxwell went on to add that few of Australia’s batters have a “crack at the nets, so it is good for them to be put under pressure and see how it goes”.
Five-time winners Australia will open their World Cup 2023 campaign by taking on hosts India on 8 October at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.