Travis Head’s blazing hundred and an as fiery fifty by David Warner helped Australia survive a middle-order meltdown and post a massive 388 all out against New Zealand in their World Cup match in Dharamsala on Saturday.
Head (109 off 67 balls), Warner (81 off 65 balls) were destructive upfront, before the Aussies found steam through some late-order batting to set the Kiwis the highest chase in ODI World Cups.
It currently stands in the name of Pakistan, who chased down 345 against Sri Lanka at Hyderabad on October 10.
Head, who replaced Cameron Green in the playing 11, and Warner garnered 175 runs in a mere 19.1 overs during a thundering opening alliance.
Head was over-aggressive in his partnership with Warner, taking on New Zealand’s bowlers with disdain, and it was tough to imagine that this was actually his first match of the tournament.
The left-hander replaced Mitchell Marsh, who came in at No. 3, at pole position and never really made Australia feel the absence of the big-hitting ‘Bison’.
Fortune also favoured Head while cruising to his fourth ODI hundred. He was dropped by Mitchell Santner off his own bowling when was on 70. The Aussies were 143 for no loss then.
Five runs later, Glenn Phillips at cover allowed the ball whizz through his hands as Head tried to clatter spinner Rachin Ravindra.
But those blips apart, Head and Warner were super smooth at the crease, pulling, cutting and driving at will to make runs around the field.
It has also to be said that the Kiwis bowlers, normally a frugal unit under Trent Boult, could not hit the right lines on this day and their fielders too remained butterfingered, dropping as many as five catches.
New Zealand were also not helped by the absence of pacer Lockie Ferguson, who conceded 38 runs in three overs, as he left the field with pain in his right Achilles.
The two left-handed batters exploited those lapses and slices of fortune to the hilt. In fact, Warner reached his fifty off 28 balls and Head his half-century off 25.
It was also the second occasion in ODIs when both the openers recorded 50s inside 30 balls.
The Aussie pair of Head and Marsh had done it against India earlier this March at Visakhapatnam in the second ODI.
With the openers in overdrive 118 runs cascaded in the first Power Play, which contained a total of 10 sixes – six by Warner and four by Head.
But the breaks came in after Warner’s dismissal, caught by spinner Phillips off his own bowling.
The spin trio of Phillips, Santner and Ravindra stifled the Australian middle-order as the pitch too seemed to have tempered down a bit at this juncture.
Phillips cleaned up Head with a quicker one, while Marsh, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne also fell to the gang of slow men as the Aussies lost four wickets for 74 runs in that period.
The five-time champions needed some momentum from 274 for five, and Glenn Maxwell (41 off 24 balls), Josh Inglis (38 off 28 balls) and captain Pat Cummins (37 off 14 balls) provided that.
Maxwell and Inglis milked 62 runs between 44.4 and 47th over.
- World Cup 2023
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