David Warner of Australia walks from the field after being dismissed as Steve Smith is seen walking in to bat at Allan Border Field.
David Warner of Australia walks from the field after being dismissed as Steve Smith is seen walking in to bat at Allan Border Field. Bradley Kanaris

Back at the crease

OUTCASTS no longer, Steve Smith and David Warner have been warmly welcomed back into the Australian fold as the side began their World Cup preparations with a nervous one-wicket practice match defeat of New Zealand in near darkness.

Chasing 216 at Brisbane's Allan Border Field, both were cheered to the crease as Warner (39) and Smith (22) rejoined the Australian order at No.3 and No.4 respectively ahead of next month's World Cup defence in England.

It was the pair's first appearance in green and gold since the Cape Town ball-tampering affair in March 2018 that resulted in year-long bans for the captain and vice captain.

And it seemed all was forgiven as warm applause followed Warner to the crease, but it was nothing on the reception Smith received as he replaced him in the middle.

"I wondered what was going on when he came out; it was fantastic to see,” Nathan Coulter-Nile said of the healthy cheers for Smith.

"I think there's no reason why not (being accepted by the Australian public); they've come back in, fit in really well again and I thought we saw today that's how everyone feels.

"When we play England (in England) I'd expect them (crowd) to be all over us, but I love that ... it gets the blood going and makes the game so much better.”

The hosts were cruising early thanks to Warner's bright innings but were suddenly exposed when Smith edged behind with Australia still needing 89 to win.

It took some late hitting from Coulter-Nile (34) - and a tense 11-run final wicket partnership between Adam Zampa and Jason Behrendorff that featured several big shouts for LBW - for Australia to scrape home with one wicket and 10 balls in hand.

Warner started nervously - he was dropped at gully off his third ball and almost popped a catch to point off his first ball - after Usman Khawaja (4) was bowled from the fourth ball of the innings.

But he exploded to life once scurrying through to get off the mark, pulling a six over midwicket and peppering the boundary between point and mid-off with a series of immaculately-timed drives.

It was a brief but compelling case from Warner, as coach Justin Langer remains coy on which two of Finch, Warner and Khawaja will face the new ball against Afghanistan on June 1 in Bristol.

Mitchell Starc (pec) was rested while Kane Richardson, who isn't in the squad, went wicketless from seven tidy overs when given the chance to press his claims for inclusion if Jhye Richardson (shoulder) is unable to prove his fitness.

Pat Cummins, Berendorff and Coulter-Nile all took three wickets against an under-strength Kiwi unit missing regular skipper Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill and Trent Boult - all still on IPL duties in India.

Cummins took two wickets in the first over before a 137-run stand between Will Young (60) and Tom Blundell (77) ensured there was scoreboard pressure on the hosts, who meet again on Wednesday.

-AAP



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