ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Tail saves Australia's blushes against NZ
Experienced pair find form as Warner slots in at No.3 but it’s left to Australia’s tail to steal a one-wicket victory in their World Cup warm-up
Adam Burnett at AB Field
6 May 2019, 06:30 AM AEST
A tail-end rescue act has spared Australia's blushes after the hosts were given an almighty scare by a second-string New Zealand side in their unofficial World Cup warm-up match in Brisbane on Monday.
In a contest most noteworthy for the return to national colours of Steve Smith and David Warner, it was the late hitting of Nathan Coulter-Nile (34) and a nervy last-wicket stand between Jason Behrendorff and Adam Zampa that allowed the hosts to sneak home by one wicket in near-darkness at Allan Border Field.
Coulter-Nile was also one of three quicks to claim three wickets, alongside Pat Cummins (3-36) and Behrendorff (3-34), as the Australians put together a disciplined display in the field to bowl out the Black Caps for just 215 from 46.1 overs.
But a crowd of approximately one thousand had come to see the Smith & Warner Show, and by mid-afternoon there was a buzz about Allan Border Field as the two batsmen wielded the willow.
Warner spent a tick over an hour in the middle and was compelling viewing from the first ball he faced, which was also almost his last; a tame fend fell just short of a diving Daryl Mitchell at backward point.
In the next over, the left-hander was dropped in the gully, and then he saw out five dot balls from a fired-up Hamish Bennett before finally getting off the mark with a single.
From there, he clicked quickly into gear, his stroke-play soon resembling the Warner of old, or the more recent version who soared to the top of the Indian Premier League run-scorers chart.
A pulled six over mid-wicket was followed up with a pair of leg-side fours, while balls over-pitched and on a good length were dispatched through cover point.
Amid the boundaries, the 32-year-old scampered between the wickets with the sort of purpose that coach Justin Langer noted last week was the benchmark for the Australian side.
He fell for 39 from 43 balls, caught at short third man attempting to reverse sweep Black Caps leg-spinner Todd Astle, and just like that, the return to (unofficial) international cricket of the world's most damaging opening batsman was complete.
It was difficult to tell if the warm ovation that followed was for Warner as he left the field, or for Smith as he took his place. Perhaps both. The former skipper began much as Warner had, which is to say unsteadily, and his first run was a streaky single past Kiwis wicketkeeper Tom Latham.
The 29-year-old played some nice shots in his 22, including a pair of boundaries through point and cover, and will doubtless be better for his 43-ball, 49-minute stay in the middle, which ended when he was caught behind by Latham off the bowling of Matt Henry.
Captain Aaron Finch batted with both Smith and Warner while continuing on the form that propelled him to a record-breaking series against Pakistan in March.
When he departed at 2-122 after making a solid 52 (64), the outcome of the match looked to be a case of when, not if, Australia would secure victory.
However, some tighter lines from New Zealand's bowling attack and some loose shots from the Australians combined to swing the course of the contest.
From a position of dominance, the hosts lost 5-42 to leave their hopes of victory with the tail.
After Smith fell, Marcus Stoinis and Shaun Marsh both looked in reasonable touch and for a brief time it appeared as though the fifth-wicket pair would guide Australia home, but that notion was quickly dispelled when they departed in quick succession.
Stoinis (15) hit one massive straight six before edging behind to give Latham a third catch, and then Marsh (15), who found the off-side boundary twice with a couple of fine drives, fell for what looked a deliberate Black Caps plan when he picked out Mitchell at a shortish gully with a slashing cut shot.
The stage was set for a rescue act from co-vice-captain Alex Carey, but the keeper-batsman couldn't deliver, out for a painstaking two as Jimmy Neesham enticed an edge to give Latham a fourth catch.
Coulter-Nile then took matters into his own hands, hitting three huge sixes in a timely exhibition of the sort of lower-order hitting that could prove extremely valuable during the World Cup.
But there remained another twist in the tale; with 11 runs required, Coulter-Nile was lbw to Astle for a fine 34, and Australia found themselves nine down with their hopes resting on Behrendorff (7no) and Zampa (11no), who survived some tight decisions to see their side home in the 49th over courtesy of a cut four from the leg-spinner.
Earlier, New Zealand's total had relied largely on third-wicket pair Tom Blundell (77) and Will Young (60), who put on 137 after had Cummins struck twice in the opening over of the day.
The two right-handers saw off Cummins and Behrendorff, both of whom extracted just a little movement from a fairly placid pitch.
With both sides allowed 12 players, Australia were able to then call upon two more quicks in the form of Coulter-Nile and non-World Cup squad member Kane Richardson (0-29), as well as allrounder Stoinis (0-41) and Zampa (1-31).
However, Blundell and Young, neither of whom have an ODI cap to their name, warmed to their task with vigour, both batsmen capitalising on the short square boundaries to deposit a couple of delightful maximums into and beyond the crowd.
Their century stand came to an end at the hands of Coulter-Nile and a good catch from Finch, and it proved the turning point of the innings, as the Black Caps – who are without 10 World Cup squad members, on either Indian Premier League or county duties – fell apart.
From a promising 2-138, they lost eight wickets with only an additional 77 runs added to the scoreboard, as Behrendorff and Coulter-Nile did the majority of the damage.
New Zealand XI 215 (Blundell 77, Young 60, Behrendorff 3-34, Cummins 3-36, Coulter-Nile 3-44) lost to an Australian XI 9-219 (Finch 52, Warner 39, Henry 3-40) by one wicket with 10 balls to spare. View the full scorecard here
Australia XI: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa
New Zealand XI: George Worker, Henry Nicholls, Will Young, Tom Blundell, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Daryl Mitchell, Todd Astle, Doug Bracewell, Matt Henry, 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, Jhye 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