World Cup

Maxwell, Warner tune up with tons

Batsmen cash in before some sharp fielding proved the perfect warm-up for Australia

Andrew Ramsey Adelaide Oval

8 February 2015, 10:21 PM AEST

Warner, Maxwell light up India

For a match that offered no competition points, trophy opportunities, career statistics or even legitimate bragging rights, the best either team could take from their first World Cup warm-up hit out was reassurance.

A maiden century in national colours by Glenn Maxwell, yet another hundred by prolific opener David Warner and solid contributions from most others with bat, ball and fielding meant the Australian brainstrust took all they could have hoped from the game, if not a measure more.

If records of such ventures were kept, they would show that Australia won by 106 runs having bowled out India for 265 in the 46th over.

But for some lusty late-order hitting from reserve 'keeper Ambati Rayudu who took a liking to Steve Smith's wrist spin the margin would have been much wider.

As such, it will be the hosts who decamp Adelaide bound for Melbourne in the morning with calmer souls after pocketing yet another win over an Indian team that must be starting to question when and how their first victory on Australian soil will arrive.

There were sufficient signs in India's pursuit of Australia's formidable 371 this evening to suggest that moment will come at the same venue on Tuesday when MS Dhoni's luckless squad tackles World Cup newcomers Afghanistan.

That would at least give the reigning Cup holder some cause for comfort before they enter their most important one-day international since the 2011 Final victory – against a better credentialed and significantly more problematic rival Pakistan in their tournament opener in Adelaide next Sunday.

The unease India feels in going winless against international opponents from four Tests and five 50-over matches since arriving in Australia in November and in defending their World Cup champion status will be erased in a single stroke if they triumph over their arch-rivals next weekend.

But they will need greater penetration and economy from their seam bowlers (who conceded 207 runs from less than 30 overs between them today), a lift in the ground fielding and a greater hunger from their star-studded top order if they are to launch a successful Cup defence.

Where the Australians gained a kick-start from Warner whose 104 outwardly appeared far more measured and clinical than the 83 balls it occupied would indicate, and a pyrotechnic finish from Maxwell who bludgeoned 88 from the last 29 deliveries he faced, India couldn't quite match them.

DW

Warner was in blistering form early // Getty Images

As has been the theme of this fruitless tour to date.

Virat Kohli cruised to 18 before he opted for the wrong shot and the resultant bottom edge rolled from his leg to the stumps.

Ajinkya Rahane again looked all class until he tried to clear the in-field and holed out to mid-on, the same fate as befell opener Shikhar Dhawan who looked to have turned a corner when he started a good clip only to lose momentum and eventually his wicket.

Suresh Raina was a victim of the sort of slick work from Warner that only underlined the difference in the two teams' fielding, and Dhoni must have felt Mitchell Starc's 'Statue of Liberty' catch on the backward square leg rope from the first ball he faced pretty much summed up his Australia experience thus far.

But it would be disingenuous to suggest the difference between the teams was as glib as a flash of brilliance and a slice of fortune in the key moments.

The class differential that has proved decisive in the preceding Commonwealth Bank Tests and the Carlton Mid ODI Tri-Series (where India failed to qualify for the final) was again almost as glaringly obvious as the Australians' luminescent World Cup outfits.

Australia's 371 was by far the largest score posted by an international team in a 50-over game at the venue – the previous best being the West Indies 4-339 against Pakistan a decade ago - though it won't be reflected in the record book given the unofficial nature of today's game.

Given the return by some of Indian seamers, who were leaking runs at more than seven runs an over at the start of the innings, that's not such a bad result.

But it will stand as a breakthrough innings for Maxwell who upon reaching 50 appeared to suffer an injury to his lower back, an inconvenience that only spurred him to swing harder more often and with even greater success.

Having spoken recently of his plan to give himself more time to settle in at the crease before unveiling his full array of shots he was again true to his words scoring a sedate 34 from the first 28 deliveries he faced having come to the wicket at number six.

But from that point he accelerated into a breathtaking range of audacious and power hitting, blasting 88 runs from the next 27 balls in a display that was littered with nine boundaries and seven sixes including a couple of – even by Maxwell's standards – a couple of stand-out moments.

The standing-up sweep shot that landed eight rows beyond the mid-wicket fence was one.

The back-pedalling square cut over the longer boundary on the opposite side of the ground that cleared not just the rope but the pickets to land in the support crew dug-out marginally pipped it for chutzpah.

Three consecutive sixes off Mohammed Shami convinced Maxwell and the Australians he was seeing them sufficiently well to retire on 122, from which point the home team's innings folded quickly for 371 all out in the 49th over.

Maxwell mixed patience with flamboyance // Getty Images 

Such was the nature of the pitch and the surety of the strokeplay it enabled, India would have considered themselves a chance to create unofficial history and chase that down at the innings, notwithstanding the quality of the Australian attack.

Earlier, Warner had feasted on the plentiful diet of short balls dished up by India's seam attack which is being re-shaped now that key paceman Ishant Sharma has been ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.

He hit through the line with impunity, taking advantage of the short boundary on the ground's eastern side and moved to within a single blow of his half-century when he pulled the hapless Shami beyond the fine leg rope for six.

His century – from 80 balls with 13 boundaries and a pair of sixes - came just past the midway point of Australia's innings, courtesy of a single to long-off from Ravi Ashwin whom Warner had lifted over the midwicket fence in the spinner's previous over.

At that stage, Australia were rattling along at seven runs an over but the introduction of left-arm spinner Axar Patel in the next over put paid to Warner's innings as he tried to bludgeon a yorker-length delivery and was bowled for 104.

The news that Warner is in rare form and looms as a trump card for Australia in its bid to lift the World Cup on home soil won't come as hard news to any of the 13 other competing nations in the six-week tournament.

What might catch their attention from today's low-key practice match was the fact that Steve Smith, an even more dominant batting force over the past two months than his left-handed teammate, was dismissed for a single.

It wasn't simply that the newly crowned Allan Border Medallist had posted his lowest score in Australia colours since he was trapped lbw for a duck in the second Test against Pakistan in the UAE last October.

It was the method that of his departure that others might take notice of.

Shuffling slightly across his crease, he had his leg stump uprooted in similar fashion to the ploy that India successfully used against him in the second innings of the Boxing Day Test – caught at leg slip off the same bowler (Umesh Yadav) for his lowest score of the Commonwealth Bank series – 14.

While Smith was the only Australia batsman who didn't get a start – and his comparative failure stands as inconsequential as the practice game's outcome – there were others who were clearly disappointed they didn't cash in to the extent that Warner and Maxwell.

Aaron Finch's 20 from as many deliveries included four boundaries, a blow to the sternum and an unnerving attempted knuckle ball from Stuart Binny that floated way above the batsman's head and landed in the lap of bemused wicketkeeper M S Dhoni on the full.

Two balls later, Finch was cursing himself when he tried to muscle Binny over mid-on and floated the ball in a simlar arc to Virat Kohli.

Shane Watson's first competitive hit-out in three weeks began a little rustily, with an under-edged cut shot and an attempted pull that spooned from the cue end of the bat.

But a full delivery on his pads was whipped to the square leg boundary and he appeared to be in his way until another short ball tempted him to hook and the top edge flew high to fine leg to Watson's undisguised disappointment.

But the player to seem most aggrieved was George Bailey who conceded yesterday that he's short of a sizeable score and is unlikely to find a more agreeable set of circumstances in which to remedy that run.

Bailey took his time to find some fluency // Getty Images

On a flat pitch, under cloudless skies and against a seam attack that posed about as much threat as rain, Bailey's assessment that he didn't feel out of form as he had been hitting the ball crisply soon rang true.

Despite playing support act to Warner, he moved almost imperceptibly to 32 from 38 balls when Warner was dismissed.

But it was the spinners who accounted for the opener who also blunted Bailey's momentum, and he suddenly found himself in a battle to get off-spinner Ravi Ashwin and left-armer Axar Patel through the in-field.

His next dozen runs took 28 balls to accumulate, and the opportunity he saw when seamer Mohammed Shami – whose first two overs had cost 29 runs – re-entered the attack was reflected in the forceful cut shot he aimed at Shami's second delivery.

Which flew waist high to backward point, ending Bailey's innings for a two-paced but encouraging 44 made in just over an hour at the crease.

Australia's four-pronged pace attack, one of the luxuries of the relaxed practice match playing conditions, were able to build pressure and capture wickets when required to ensure their opponents never gained a foothold in the game.

And Australia's catching scrambling, hunting and throwing was starkly at odds with an Indian fielding outfit that looked as though it was not long off a plane as opposed to semi-permanent residents for whom Adelaide has become almost a second home.

In the end, the significance of tonight's scratch match will linger for no longer than it remains in the memory of those 13,909 who turned up to witness it.

But the prospect of a similar scenario playing out against Pakistan in a week's time will surely give the Indian team and a few hundred million of their fans no little cause for anxiety during the remainder of their stay in Adelaide.

SQUADS

Australia: George Bailey (capt), Aaron Finch, David Warner, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Josh Hazlewood, Brad Haddin

India: MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayuda, Suresh Raina, Stuart Binny, Ravinda Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravi Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav.

Australia’s World Cup Fixtures

February 14: v England, 2:30pm at the MCG

February 21: v Bangladesh, 1:30pm at the Gabba

February 28: v New Zealand, 2:00pm at Eden Park (NZ)

March 4: v Afghanistan, 2:30pm at the WACA

March 8: v Sri Lanka, 2:30pm at the SCG

March 13: v Scotland, 2:30pm at Blundstone Arena

View the full fixture list here

Tipping promo 2