• Ominous Aussies raise the stakes with strong Pakistan win

    Australia’s batsmen have given notice that they are up for the challenge to defend their Cricket World Cup title after an eight-wicket win over Pakistan in Sharjah on Friday.

    After choosing to bat first, Pakistan put together a decent (albeit somewhat sedate) score of 280-5 off their 50 overs, with Haris Sohail scoring an excellent 101 not out off 115 balls (6×4, 1×6, S/R 87.82), backed up by Umar Akmal (48 off 50 balls) and Shan Masood (40 off 62 balls). Imad Wasim helped push the score up with a lightning 28 off 13 balls (4×4, 1×6, S/R 215.38).

    Nathan Coulter-Nile picked up 2-61, while Nathan Lyon was the most economical of the bowlers, returning 1-38 off his 10 overs (econ 3.80).

    READ ALSO: Finch hopes Aussies keep momentum from India win

    Usman Khawaja (24 off 30 balls) and Aaron Finch got the Australian innings off to a flying start, putting on 63 for the first wicket in the first 11 overs.

    Finch and Shaun Marsh then added a brilliant 172 for the second wicket off 31 overs to set up the victory. Finch fell for 116 off 135 balls (8×4, 4×6), while Marsh (91 not out off 102 balls, 4×4, 2×6) and Peter Handscomb (30 off 27 balls, 2×4) took Australia safely through to 281 for the loss of just two wickets and with six balls in hand.

    Australia is clearly a side that is peaking at the right time, and their batsmen are playing hard for their places ahead of the imminent returns of Steve Smith and David Warner. The stakes for Cricket World Cup 2019 have just been raised.


    Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images

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    Simon Lewis