Warner seals World Cup berth with red-hot blitz in milestone match but other spots in doubt as Aussies scrape past Windies


David Warner silenced any speculation about whether the final stretch of his third retirement from an international cricket format will be questioned with a thumping 70 in Australia’s narrow win over the West Indies at Hobart. 

Warner took just three deliveries to find the boundary and then did so 11 more times with a towering six to boot as the Aussies sprinted out of the gates on the way to posting 7-213 on Friday night.

Despite the mammoth target, the tourists kept pace with the required rate for most of the innings to give skipper Mitchell Marsh plenty of headaches in the field to go with his COVID-19 diagnosis, but after a top-order flurry to race to triple figures just after the halfway mark, they faded in the middle stages before falling short by just 11 runs. 

Australia’s selectors are using the six-game block of T20s, half at home against the Windies and another three in New Zealand later this month, to work out who will be heading to the Caribbean in June for the World Cup. 

Warner, who went through a rough patch in the UAE recently with a highest score of just 42 in eight hits in the ILT20 tournament, was at his belligerent best no matter where the Windies bowled. 

The 37-year-old banged a quartet of fours from the second over as the match and with temporary opening partner Josh Inglis, deputising for the resting Travis Head, also going the tonk, the run rate exploded.

Australia had racked up 40 on the scoreboard after just three overs and brought up the 50 in the fourth. 

Their six-over power play tally of 73 without loss matched the record in Hobart as the Windies paid the price for straying down leg side and dropping short with both openers pulling fiercely to the boundary. 

Inglis spooned a Jason Holder slower ball to mid-off from the last ball of the eighth over to finish with 39 from 25 with 26 of his runs coming from tracer bullets to the boundary.

David Warner in Hobart. (Photo by Simon Sturzaker/Getty Images)

Warner looked on course to smash a ton in his hundredth match after racing to his half-century from just the 22nd ball faced.

Marsh unleashed a thunderous six over square leg in his brief stint at the crease before he was out for 16 from 13 after nicking off to Alzarri Joseph.

Warner was fuming with himself later in the same over when he tried to swat away a slower-ball bouncer that had been dug into the wicket but only succeeded in spooning a catch to wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran to end his 36-ball blitz. 

If looks could kill…

Alzarri Joseph was NOT happy with this fielding effort #AUSvWI pic.twitter.com/1gMN00SLbX

— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 9, 2024

All-rounder Marcus Stoinis smacked the biggest hit of the day when he murdered an Andre Russell slower ball out of the arena into nearby scrub. 

But as has been the case throughout his career, he followed that up with a reckless shot, skying the ball into the deep to be on his way for nine.

On the back of being dropped from the ODI side and with Head and Steve Smith sitting out this series, time is running out for Stoinis to convince the selectors he should be going to the World Cup ahead of younger options like Aaron Hardie, Matt Short and Cameron Green.

Glenn Maxwell plays a pull shot. (Photo by Simon Sturzaker/Getty Images)

Glenn Maxwell made a breezy 10 before holing out in the deep and at 5-159 in the 16th over, the Australian innings was in danger of petering out.

But up stepped Tim David with an array of power hits to ensure the home side surged past 200. 

David demolished the bowling with a couple of sixes and four boundaries in his 17-ball 37 not out, partnering with Matthew Wade (21 off 14), to list the total to 7-213.

With Inglis finding his feet as a white-ball batter at international level, Wade could also be deemed surplus to requirements for the World Cup even though the Tasmanian veteran retained the keeping gloves for this game.

‘Watch out for the rebound!’

That was hit extremely hard by Mitch Marsh #AUSvWI pic.twitter.com/QLOp5JLBpw

— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 9, 2024

Undaunted by the sizeable run-chase, openers Johnson Charles and Brandon King exceeding Inglis and Warner’s opening feats, dishing out six sixes between them as they also ticked off 50 in the fourth over. And they claimed the outright record for runs in the T20 power play at the venue by registering 77.

Jason Behrendorff is another fringe World Cup candidate who damaged his selection hopes after being taken down for 26 runs during his two overs in the power play less than a week after being named Australia’s T20 player of the year. Even Josh Hazlewood was not immune to their fireworks, conceding 19 from his first two overs.

The King-Charles reign produced the princely sum of 89 runs in less than nine overs before Adam Zampa struck. 

The Aussies get their first wicket with Johnson Charles holing out to David Warner #AUSvWI pic.twitter.com/jmil3WC2mh

— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 9, 2024

Charles (42 off 25) sliced Zampa to Warner at deep point before King abdicated the throne with the score on an even 100 in the 11th over when he picked out Sean Abbott on the square leg boundary. 

Windies captain Rovman Powell (14 off five) and one-day skipper Shai Hope (16 off eight) kept the runs, and the boundaries, flowing as they entered the final five overs needing 72. 

Zampa returned to remove Russell before the dangerous hitter could get started and the Windies went down swinging in the closing stages but the target was always just out of reach. 

The veteran leg-spinner’s haul of 3-26 in four overs stood out among the carnage that most of the other bowlers copped on the batting-friendly wicket, underlining his status as one of the world’s best white-ball bowlers.

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