Afghanistan v Australia: Smith, Warner set to star for champions

By Sports Desk May 31, 2019

Australia will hope to be eased into the Cricket World Cup against Afghanistan, but things may not be so comfortable for Steve Smith and David Warner.

The defending champions thrashed Afghanistan at the tournament four years ago and will fancy themselves to come through Saturday's opener unscathed.

Yet Smith and Warner will be expecting a hostile reception when they step out in Bristol.

The duo were banned for a year for their involvement in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal and there were plenty of reminders of their actions in Cape Town last year during the warm-up matches.

That is likely to continue this weekend, with Warner having recovered from a glute injury.

With the jeers unlikely to subside, it is time for Aaron Finch's side to get down to business and they should have too much for Afghanistan.

HOW DID THEY WARM UP?

Australia showed why they are defending champions as they defeated hosts England in a warm-up, while Sri Lanka were also swatted aside.

Afghanistan upset struggling Pakistan, but they were dismantled by England earlier this week.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Gulbadin Naib: "It's not like 2015 where we are now. Everything has changed. In the last couple of years, we have improved very well in every department so, hopefully, it will be good again tomorrow."

Aaron Finch: "It is a long tournament, making sure you are ready to go at any stage. We travel around quite a bit with our games. We don't have too many back-to-back in the same spot. It's about adapting to conditions and every player being ready."

 

OPTA FACTS

- Australia's highest winning margin by runs in an ODI (275) came against Afghanistan at the 2015 World Cup.

- That victory began a nine-game winning streak in ODIs. Australia have won eight on the bounce coming into this match.

- Afghanistan have won three of their past five ODIs and seven of 11 played in Europe.

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