SYDNEY: Skipper Aaron Finch says a rejuvenated Australia are “pumped” ahead of their defence of the World Cup, with Steve Smith and David Warner returning from bans for ball-tampering and eager to let their bats do the talking.
Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets on home turf to be crowned champions in 2015 and extend their record as the tournament’s most successful team.
From the 11 World Cups played, they have won five and were losing finalists on two other occasions.
On paper it makes them among the favourites, and they head into their opening match against Afghanistan in Bristol on June 1 on a run of eight straight one-day wins, against India and Pakistan.
But it has been a rocky ride, with the “sandpapergate” scandal in South Africa last year rattling the team as they struggled to cope with the fallout and the hole left by one-year bans handed to their two leaders and best batsmen — Smith and Warner.
The outlook was bleak after a string of poor results in the aftermath, but laid-back coach Justin Langer and the unassuming Finch have not only steadied the ship but emphatically turned it around.
And now they have potential game-changers Smith and Warner back, confidence is sky-high.
“I’m very excited,” Finch said of the upcoming challenge. “The fact that everyone is together, everyone’s getting on great, the boys are pumped… it literally is the time of your life — a World Cup.”
When Langer was appointed after Darren Lehmann stepped down after the ball-tampering affair, a key part of his brief was to torpedo the notorious win-at-all costs culture under then skipper Smith and his abrasive deputy Warner.
A buzzword of his now is “respect” and he took the team to the World War I battlefields of Gallipoli on the way to England to learn about “humility and perspective”.
Their mettle will be put to the test at the World Cup and the following Ashes series, with a hostile reception expected from their arch-rival English fans, with Smith and Warner in the firing line.
CWC 2019: England bats against Afghanistan
MANCHESTER: England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and decided to bat first against Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday after being passed fit to play in the World Cup pool match.
Morgan was given the all-clear after suffering a back spasm that meant he was unable to bat in the tournament hosts’ eight-wicket win over the West Indies in Southampton on Friday.
World Cup favourites England made two changes from that side, with James Vince replacing Jason Roy after the in-form opener was ruled out with a hamstring tear that could sideline him for at least two pool fixtures.
And with Tuesday’s match being played on a used pitch that should aid turn, England decided to drop paceman Liam Plunkett, who was reportedly unwell on Monday, and recall off-spinner Moeen Ali.
“The wicket looks really good,” said Morgan. “It doesn’t look a great deal used — everyone at Old Trafford has done a magnificent job to get it ready.
“It played well the other day (when India beat Pakistan) — plenty of carry for the seamers and a hint of turn for the spinners.”
Rank outsiders Afghanistan made three changes from the side that lost to South Africa by nine wickets.
Top-order batsmen Hazratullah Zazai, fast bowler Hamid Hassan and medium-pacer Aftab Alam were all dropped, with Afghanistan recalling Najibullah Zadran, Dawlat Zadran and spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
England, bidding to win the World Cup for the first time, are currently fourth in the 10-team table with only the top four at the end of the 10-team round-robin stage qualifying for the semi-finals.
Afghanistan are bottom of the standings, with four defeats in four matches.
England: Jonny Bairstow, James Vince, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wkt), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood
Afghanistan: Noor Ali Zadran, Gulbadin Naib (capt), Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Alikhil (wkt), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Umpires: Paul Reiffel (AUS), Joel Wilson (WIS)
TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)
Loss against India: Resolution seeking resignation of PCB chairman, others submitted
LAHORE: A resolution was tabled in the Punjab Assembly today seeking removal of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani, Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and other responsible for the defeat against India in ICC World Cup 2019 yesterday.
Pakistan lost against arch-rivals India by 89 runs in the mega clash in Old Trafford, Manchester.
The resolution, submitted by PML-N leader Aziza Fatima, stated that people of the country were angry over Pakistan’s defeat against India.
It further stated that neither the PCB planned for the world cup nor it could induct extraordinary player in the team due to which disappointment prevails among the masses.
The resolution further demanded all the responsible including the PCB chairman and chief selector be removed immediately.
Sarfaraz stands by decision to field first against India, acknowledges team’s shortcomings
MANCHESTER: Pakistan cricket team captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has said that his decision to choose field first after winning the toss was ‘good’ for the team as the weather conditions had brought moisturizer to the pitch.
In a post-match press conference following the team’s defeat to India yesterday, Sarfaraz said that Pakistan faced defeat because the team did not perform well in all three departments.
India thrashed Green Shirts with a 89-run victory via the Duckworth-Lewis method in the tournament’s most anticipated group match.
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