Cricket-Williamson shines in return from injury, Babar maintains form

  • Cricket
  • Saturday, 30 Sep 2023

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - One Day International - New Zealand Practice Sessions - The Oval, London, Britain - September 12, 2023 New Zealand's Kane Williamson during practice Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - New Zealand captain Kane Williamson made an encouraging half-century on his return from injury, while Pakistan counterpart Babar Azam provided glimpses of his current form in a warm-up match ahead the 50-overs World Cup in Hyderabad on Friday.

Williamson has been ruled out of the Oct. 5 tournament opener against England to give him more time to complete his rehabilitation from a knee surgery.

Relieved of his captaincy duty in the warm-up match, Williamson did not look in any discomfort and scored a fluent 54 off 50 balls before retiring.

"Just great to get through with some batting and be out in the middle," the 33-year-old said after New Zealand chased down a 346-run victory target with 6.2 overs to spare.

"It held up pretty well, so that's good. A little bit of icing afterwards, but it's all part of the process," Williamson said of his knee.

For the 2019 finalists, Rachin Ravindra smashed 97 and Daryl Mitchell made 59 before Mark Chapman, who made 65 not out, sealed victory with a six.

Williamson said he was not sure of returning for the tournament after sustaining the injury during the Indian Premier League earlier this year.

"It was certainly not a reality five months ago. I'm fortunate with the recovery and being named in the squad was really exciting for me.

"I'm just really looking forward to getting out there again, and it was nice to do that today."

Pakistan would not be too unhappy with their batting after racking up 345-5 with stumper-batsman Mohammed Rizwan producing a belligerent 103.

Babar, currently the top-ranked ODI batter, made a breezy 80 to maintain his strong form, while Saud Shakeel contributed 75.

Pakistan have lost the service of speedster Naseem Shah before the start of the tournament, and they rested pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi for the warm-up match.

In Guwahati, Bangladesh warmed up for their campaign with a seven-wicket victory against Sri Lanka.

Skipper Dasun Shanaka's poor form with the bat continued and Sri Lanka were skittled out for 263 with five deliveries left in their innings.

Opener Pathum Nissanka (68) and all-rounder Dhananyaja de Silva (55) managed half-centuries but batting remained a concern for the 1996 champions.

Bangladesh romped home with eight overs to spare with each of their top three batters smashing a half-century.

Openers Tanzid Hasan (84) and Litton Das (61) forged a rapid 131-run stand and Mehidy Hasan Miraz made 67 not out to set up their comprehensive victory.

South Africa's warm-up match against Afghanistan was abandoned because of rain in Thiruvananthapuram.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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