ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Smith, Starc find form as NZ XI win
Returning Aussie stars make positive strides but Kiwi youngsters record impressive win in World Cup warm-up game in Brisbane
Adam Burnett at Allan Border Field
8 May 2019, 07:00 PM AEST
For a side that was in the end comfortably beaten by a vastly depleted New Zealand side, Australia could feasibly have left Brisbane's Allan Border Field with their mood uplifted after three of their key players provided telling contributions in today's World Cup warm-up.
As New Zealand made impressively light work of a target of 278 off the back of a classy 130 to Will Young, who featured in consecutive century stands with George Worker (56) and Tom Latham (69no), the hosts' standout with ball in hand was spearhead Mitchell Starc, whose three-month layoff came to an end in encouraging fashion.
Starc bowled at high pace and took two wickets with trademark yorkers, finishing with 2-14 from five overs before he was withdrawn from the action midway through New Zealand's run chase, which saw just three wickets fall and 47.2 of the allotted 50 overs required.
The left-arm quick was joined in the attack by new World Cup addition Kane Richardson (0-52), Australia A quicks Sean Abbott (0-57) and Michael Neser (0-62), and spinners Nathan Lyon (0-54) and Glenn Maxwell (0-39), all of whom failed to make any inroads.
With World Cup quartet Pat Cummins (who turned 26 today), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Adam Zampa rested, and Jhye Richardson (injured) and Josh Hazlewood (recovering) both unavailable, Australia's attack looked somewhat uninspired on a pitch that offered little assistance on another cloudless Queensland afternoon.
If the bowling was flat however, Australia's batting – and particularly that of Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell – was anything but.
After David Warner (0) and Aaron Finch (16) fell to Kiwi seamer Doug Bracewell, who bowled an excellent new-ball spell, Usman Khawaja put together a composed 56 to do his World Cup hopes no harm and extricate Australia from a less-than-promising position early in their innings.
Khawaja and Shaun Marsh (28) could well be competing for the No.3 spot in Australia's first-choice XI, and the two unfurled some typically impressive stroke-play, particularly through the cover region as they looked set for long stays in the middle.
But Marsh was again caught slashing outside off stump and Khawaja found himself the victim of an outstanding catch from Jimmy Neesham, who intercepted a full-blooded pull shot at short mid-wicket.
It set the scene for Smith and Maxwell, who combined the classical with the unorthodox as only they can.
After spending some one-on-one time in the nets with coach Justin Langer before play, Smith hit the ground running when he entered the action from the unfamiliar No.5 position.
He moved from three to seven with a beautifully struck straight drive and an over later cover drove leg-spinner Todd Astle for six to really move into his stride.
In no time he and Maxwell added impetus to an innings that had been hitherto chugging along at a gentle pace.
The fifth-wicket partnership of 81 came from just 78 balls and showcased not only the reassuring return of Smith's powers but the often-outrageous stroke-play of Maxwell, who smashed 52 from 44 balls with six fours and two sixes without appearing to move out of second gear.
The Victorian would have been disappointed to fall to a good catch at wide long-on just one ball after lacing a six over cover, given there were still six overs remaining in the innings.
In his absence, Smith expanded his range, putting sixes over wide long off and square leg and even pulling out his trademark tennis slap during what was both a highly-entertaining and effective performance.
He was unbeaten on 89 from 77 balls at the close of innings, with Alex Carey contributing a quick-fire 22.
In the end Australia's 6-277 wasn't close to enough, yet with standout performances from a trio crucial to their 2015 World Cup success, there was a certain silver lining for Langer and his group as they await Friday's final match before flying out to defend their title.
Australia XI 6-277 (Smith 89no, Khawaja 56, Maxwell 52, Bracewell 3-45) lost to New Zealand XI 2-283 (Young 130, Latham 69no, Worker 56, Starc 2-14) by seven wickets with 16 balls remaining
Australia XI: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey, Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Sean Abbott, Nathan Lyon, Kane Richardson
New Zealand XI: Hamish Rutherford, George Worker, Will Young, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Tom Blundell, Daryl Mitchell, Todd Astle, Doug Bracewell, Blair Tickner, Hamish Bennett
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE