WC : Australia’s Maxwell, Warner send Netherlands for leather hunt

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Opening Batsman David Warner hit another excellent century as Australia built a big platform against Netherlands in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, before Glenn Maxwell unleashed with the fastest hundred in the tournament’s history.

Warner and Steve Smith helped Australia make a strong start after opting to bat, with the duo helping post 66/1 after the first Powerplay in Delhi on Wednesday. And the Australian top order kicked on after that strong start to set up a large total.

But nobody could have predicted the extent of the damage that was to come, with Maxwell demolishing the Netherlands attack with a brutal display of hitting, registering by far the fastest ever hundred seen at a Cricket World Cup.

Netherlands started with spin right from the start after being asked to bowl first, with Aryan Dutt, the off-spinner, opening the bowling. Marsh decided to take an aggressive approach against him, smashing a fine drive through square for four, before a thick edge also found the fence, albeit a tad fortunately.

It was Warner’s turn to go after Dutt in his next over, and the southpaw picked four straight fours, cutting, slapping, and bullying Dutt to give Australia the perfect start.

Netherlands found some joy at the other end when Marsh miscued a pull high, and holed out to Colin Ackermann for just 9. But the loss of the opener didn’t dampen Australia, though, as Smith took little time to settle – picking Logan van Beek and Paul van Meekeren for fours within his first three overs.

Three back-to-back fours from Smith in the 10th over ensured he quickly overtook Warner’s tally, giving Australia a solid platform to build a big total.

Warner, who was sedate until then, soon moved up the gears, smashing Colin Ackermann and Vikramjit Singh for sixes in successive overs. He completed a fifty in the same over with a boundary.

Warner’s innings wasn’t chanceless, though, with the opener let off in the 17th over when Max O’Dowd missed a golden chance to run the batter out. He later survived a close call for a catch with Roelof van der Merwe grounding what appeared to be a sensational catch.

While Warner went on to plunder more boundaries, van der Merwe had a redemption of his own, when he pulled off a brilliant reverse cupped take to send back Steve Smith.

Marnus Labuschagne copped an early blow onto the helmet off Logan van Beek, but soon found his groove, and raced to a run-a-ball fifty an over after he slammed van der Merwe for two fours and a six.

Netherlands found the breakthrough before the partnership could blossom further, with Bas de Leede using the scrambled seam and a tempting field to lure Labuschagne into a false stroke.

And Josh Inglis lasted for just 12 balls as Australia’s innings faltered slightly.

Earlier, Australia opted to bat first after captain Pat Cummins won the toss.

The management opted not to slot in opener Travis Head, who arrived in India earlier in the week, straight into the XI. Australia were also missing all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who had sustained a calf problem. Cameron Green took his place in the side.

Netherlands opted to stick with the same XI that succumbed to Sri Lanka on Saturday.

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