Australia begin World Cup title defence against Afghanistan

 

Steve Smith and David Warner will seek redemption on the biggest stage as they re-launch their one-day international careers for Australia against Afghanistan at the World Cup on Saturday. The star batsmen were both banned for a year for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal but they have found form on their return to the international set-up.

Warner was the top run-scorer in the recent Indian Premier League while Smith struck a hundred in a warm-up victory against England last weekend. The defending champions have endured a tumultuous past year but the Aaron Finch-led side are peaking at the right time and are considered one of the favourites in the 50-over showpiece event.

After edging out hosts India 3-2 in a five-match ODI series in March, Australia welcomed back Smith and Warner with open arms. But they are not expected to be given an easy ride by English fans, with former captain Smith being booed and called a “cheat” during the England warm-up game.