Afghanistan bat against Australia in World Cup

Bristol (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib took the bold decision to bat against champions Australia in their World Cup opener at Bristol on Saturday.

Rank outsiders Afghanistan's strength lies in their spin bowling rather than batting, with the team dismissed for just 160 by tournament hosts England in a warm-up match on Monday.

Australia boast an impressive pace attack but that did not stop Gulbadin opting to bat first, with the captain explaining he wanted to give his spinners a target to defend.

"It looks quite a good, flat wicket," he said at the toss.

"We have three spinners in the side and we want to put a score on the board for them. Morale is high and hopefully we can start well."

As expected former Australia captain Steve Smith and opener David Warner were both included for their first full major international match since they completed year-long bans imposed after a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Warner was passed fit to play after recovering from a sore glute.

Australia preferred Usman Khawaja to fellow batsman Shaun Marsh, with all-rounder Glenn Maxwell included in their XI.

"I'd have batted first too," said Australia captain Aaron Finch. "Hopefully we can find some movement early on and get wickets."


Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad (wkt), Hazrat Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib (capt), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujib Ur Rahman, Hamid Hasan

Australia: Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wkt), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa

Umpires: Richard Illingworth (ENG), Aleem Dar (PAK)

TV umpire: Michael Gough (ENG)

Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)