Southampton: Steve Smith’s brilliant hundred and a clinical show by the bowlers at the death helped Australia beat England by 12 runs in their World Cup warm-up game here Saturday. Smith, who returned to the national team along with David Warner after completing a 12-month ban for their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal last year, hit a 102-ball 116 to help Australia post 297 for 9 after being asked to bat. England, the top pick for the experts to win the World Cup beginning on May 30, were poised to chase down the target, reaching 197 for 4 in the 34th over but after that they lost the plot as they were bowled out for 285 in 49.3 overs.
The highlight of the England run chase was the 71-run stand for the fourth wicket between James Vince (64) and Jos Buttler (52) who stood for Eoin Morgan as captain for the World Cup hosts. England were in a strong position even after Vince was dismissed in the 34th over, needing 101 run from 16.1 overs. They needed 61 runs from the final 10 overs with five wickets in hand. But in the end, England fell short by 12 runs to lose the match. For Australia, Jason Behrendroff and Kane Richardson picked up two wickets each while Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon and Marcus Stoinis got a wicket apiece.
Australia: 297-9 (S Smith 116; Liam Plunkett 4/69) bt England: 285 in 49.3 overs (J Vince 64, J Buttler 52; J Behrendroff 2-43, K Richardson 2-51).