Babar Azam shines for Pakistan in high-scoring World Cup warm-up loss against Australia

Star batsman hits quickfire 90 while India's practice match against Netherlands is washed out

Pakistan batsman Babar Azam during a World Cup warm-up match against Australia in Hyderabad. AP
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Pakistan captain Babar Azam stole the show in a high-scoring World Cup warm-up defeat to Australia in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Chasing a daunting target of 352, Pakistan seemed out of the contest at 83-4 but Azam smashed a glorious 90 from just 59 balls before retiring out. The captain hit 11 fours and two sixes in an entertaining innings that he cut short to give other batsmen time out in the middle.

He upped the scoring rate with Iftikhar Ahmed (83 from 85 balls) as Australia utilised their part-time bowlers Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and David Warner.

However, the return of regular bowlers saw the scoring rate reduce and Pakistan folded for 337 to lose by 14 runs. However, they will be more than pleased with the runs scored by their middle order, and all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz, who hit 50 to go with 1-34 with the ball.

Earlier, Australia posted 351-7 with contributions from their entire line-up. All-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Cameron Green hit attractive fifties, making their case for selection in the playing XI for the main tournament.

Australia will be particularly happy with the bowling form of Maxwell, who proved difficult to get away in his eight overs, giving away just 34 runs. He had earlier picked up 4-40 against India in the recent third ODI in Rajkot.

For Pakistan, it was another disappointing outing for pacer Haris Rauf, who went for 97 from in nine overs, raising fears that he has not fully recovered from a side injury.

Pakistan stand-in captain Shadab Khan said it was a good workout, helping the management finalise their playing XI.

"We took a lot of positives. Our attitude was good. I think our 11 is sorted, we just wanted to give time to the bench to show their skills," Shadab said.

Meanwhile Australia skipper Pat Cummins said the team was in good shape ahead of the main tournament.

"First game just a few days away, we are looking in better frame. Mitch Marsh has bowled well, same with Maxwell and Starc. Just about everyone contributed in the middle," he said.

While Pakistan and Australia got much needed match practice, India were denied by rain once again.

The home team endured a 3,400km cross-country journey only for the match to be abandoned without a ball being bowled.

India were to face the Netherlands in Thiruvananthapuram, on the southern tip of India, but they were left kicking their heels due to torrential rain.

On Saturday, their scheduled game against defending champions England up in the north-eastern city of Guwahati was also washed out.

In all, the wet weather has so far forced three warm-up matches to be abandoned while three others have been rain-affected.

The Netherlands have also had two washouts, including Saturday's match against Australia which ended in a no result when rain ended their chase in 14.2 overs.

The World Cup begins in Ahmedabad on Thursday with a clash between defending champions England and 2019 finalists New Zealand.

Updated: October 04, 2023, 9:03 AM