Bristol: David Warner and Steve Smith were both jeered during Australia's World Cup clash against Afghanistan but it wasn't enough to stop the defending champions from beginning their campaign with a crushing seven-wicket win.
Warner was booed when he notched his first half-century in 20 months, while Smith was given even worse treatment by supporters old and young when he came out to bat in the 26th over at the Bristol County Ground to join Warner.
This was the first serious international match for the pair since they returned from a year-long ban for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
Warner had not been booed through his innings until he registered his first 50 since October, 2017 when he made 53 against India in Nagpur. He finished unbeaten on 89 but Smith was caught on 18, prompting another round of raucious boos and claps.
The jeers did not distract Warner, nor did the two people who had dressed up as sandpaper and hovered on a balcony of a flat overlooking the ground.
Smith not only endured the boos from the moment he entered the field but they persisted when he batted. "Cheat, cheat" could be heard from spectators square of the wicket.
The former captain had also been booed upon reaching his century against England in a warm-up clash last weekend, prompting coach Justin Langer through the week to call on fans to show respect. That message was not heeded.
The Australians had braced for a hostile reception through the World Cup – and ensuing Ashes series when the Barmy Army will be in full flight – and it appears supporters are not yet ready to move on. This crowd was already firmly in the corner of Afghanistan, applauding their big hitting and wickets, with little support for the Australians.
Australia have sought advice from public relations firms about how to curb the jeering but time may be the only solution.
Chasing 208 for victory, having bowled out their opponents in 38.2 overs, the Australians reached their target with 91 balls remaining.
Warner has had to turn over a new leaf in the way he conducts himself on the field. On this occasion, it was also a new way in which he built his innings. The turbo-charger was gone. In its place was more a family car, content to allow skipper Aaron Finch (66 off 49 balls) to be the aggressor.
Given a life on 10 when grassed at slip, his first 28 runs came off 50 balls – a strike rate of only 56.
Finch set the tone by taking down mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman who, given the new ball, was removed after conceding 24 from two overs. This included Finch alone taking nine from his first over, the most runs the Victorian had scored in the first over of a match in 109 previous one-day internationals.
He also crunched 10 runs off Rashid Khan's opening two deliveries, leaving the leg-spinner and match winner to ensure a miserable afternoon.
It was a mixed performance by Australia's attack, with two overs – one by Adam Zampa and one by Marcus Stoinis – leaking a combined 43 runs. On each occasion, the batsman got a run on with two sixes and two fours. The Australians must find a way to quickly halt such a sustained attack.
Smith produced a brilliant piece of fielding to run out Mohammad Nabi. The veteran Afghani had pushed to cover off Nathan Coulter-Nile and set off for a single. However, his captain Gulbadin Naib was disinterested, forcing Nabi to turn back. Smith, meanwhile, had dived to his left, transferred the ball into his right hand, and delivered a bullet to Alex Carey, who took off the bails.
A leg up:
This was an encouraging start for Read More – Source