World Cup

Rain-curtailed warm-up match reveals Australia’s potential ahead of CWC23

Australia, as they are renowned for, showcased their prowess once again in a warm-up match that had been reduced to 23 overs per side. They were poised to outshine the Netherlands until the unpredictable weather thwarted their plans.

In Thiruvananthapuram, where much of the evening was spent battling rain-induced frustration, it seemed almost unfair to keep Smith waiting any longer. Australia won the toss during the brief window of playable conditions, and Smith, a man so dedicated to his craft that he keeps a cricket bat in his hotel room for impromptu late-night practice sessions, walked out to open the innings.

Smith has noticeably intensified his power game in recent years, evident first in the Big Bash League when he notched consecutive centuries in January. Some of that power was on display here as well, as he dispatched three sixes and four fours during his half-century, striking at a rate of 130.95. All the while, he witnessed his teammates falling in pursuit of big hits.

For the Netherlands, an encounter with top-tier teams is a rarity, making this ostensibly unofficial game immensely significant. They earned their place in the World Cup of only 10 teams by defeating the once-mighty West Indies. Logan van Beek (2 for 35), Bas de Leede (2 for 25), and Roelof van der Merwe (2 for 12) showcased their quality by claiming six wickets collectively.

Australia concluded their innings at 166 for 7, providing valuable experience to key players in their lower-middle order ahead of the World Cup. Alex Carey was elevated to No. 3, contributing 28 off 25 balls. Cameron Green took the No. 5 spot and scored 34 off 26 deliveries. Mitchell Starc, coming in at No. 6, helped himself to 24 off 22 balls before someone handed him the gleaming new white ball.

Australia’s World Cup squad is unconventional, featuring only one specialist spinner. Their hopes for wickets lie with their trio of pace bowlers, possibly supplemented by Mitchell Marsh, who had a 4.2-over workout on Sunday to control runs when necessary. Glenn Maxwell’s form with the ball is a welcome boost, and whenever Travis Head is fit and available, he can contribute with his offbreaks.

The game was eventually called off due to further rain, with the Netherlands at 84 for 6.

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