Unexpected twist in booing saga as Aussies beat Pakistan

Crowds booing. Chants of “Cheat, cheat, cheat!”

It all faded away at the World Cup on Wednesday as David Warner and Steve Smith received cheers and applause in Australia’s win over Pakistan.

After some savage but expected treatment from the English crowds in Australia’s first two matches, Warner and Smith were treated with respect at Somerset’s County Ground.

The crowd erupted when Warner squeezed a shot between wicketkeeper and slip in the 36th over to post his first century for Australia since December 2017.

He sprinted up the pitch with his helmet in one hand and his bat in the other and leaped in the air to celebrate.

He didn’t last much longer, but was actually applauded as he left the field.

As was Smith during his short stay at the crease.

Steve Smith and David Warner. (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said before the game that the Pakistani people wouldn't boo the Australians because they loved cricket and respected the players. It turns out, he was right.

Former Aussie Test star Kerry O’Keeffe suggested Virat Kohli’s actions in their previous game had sent a message to the public.

“I think Virat Kohli’s gesture to show respect may have turned the tide for games when the English aren’t predominantly in the crowd,” he said in commentary for Fox Sports.

“Today there was no booing for either (Smith or Warner). Taunton crowd, a lot of Pakistanis, there was a lot of respect.

“I wonder if Virat Kohli’s reaction to the crowd may have quelled a lot of booing.”

Of course, there was raucous cheering in Australia's dressing room for Warner, Australia's vice-captain Pat Cummins noted after the defending champions finished off their 41-run win.

David Warner celebrates after scoring a century. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

They were so proud, Cummins said of the Aussie squad, after the tumultuous 15 months for Warner and for his family.

“Going through those tough times and sort of regrouping with myself to put myself in the best position to come back to international cricket, I did everything I could,” Warner said. “Really, really knuckled down and trained my backside off.

“And I'm just grateful for this opportunity. We've got a great sort of group harmony, a lot of smiles on the faces as you can see in a lot of the training sessions and out in the field. So, look, I'm pumped.”

Aussies survive close shave

Warner fired and Pat Cummins did his job with the ball but Australia are still some way from clicking in the World Cup following their win over Pakistan.

After Warner's 107 helped Australia to 307, the defending champions survived a scare to have Pakistan all out for 266 in the 46th over.

But while the victory margin made it sound simple, the reality was anything but.

Cummins appeared to have Pakistan reeling at 6-160 after he took the key wickets of Imam-ul-Haq (53) and the dangerous Shoaib Malik (0), finishing with 3-33.

But Pakistan's lower order had other ideas, with first Hasan Ali (32 from 15) and then Wahab Riaz (45 off 39) putting their team back in the game.

With the equation down to 44 off 35 and three wickets in hand, Starc (2-43) removed Wahab and Mohammad Amir in the same over to end Pakistan's hopes.

His dismissal of Wahab was to some degree fortunate after the Pakistani was given not out to a caught behind appeal on field, before captain Aaron Finch reviewed with one second left on the countdown clock.

Replays showed the ball that had just nipped away from him brushed the edge of the bat to have him out, before Starc then bowled Amir two balls later.

Glenn Maxwell then finished the job, producing an acrobatic run out of Sarfraz Ahmed (40) the following over.

with agencies