Australia off to perfect start
David Warner and Clint McKay excelled as Australia got their tour of England under way with a convincing 102-run Duckworth/Lewis victory over Leicestershire in a rain-affected match at Grace Road.
After early morning wet weather reduced the match to 47 and then 41 overs per side starting at 12:30pm, Warner acclimatised to English conditions in emphatic style, hitting five fours and three sixes in his 74 off 78 balls before retiring out.
David Hussey looked in fine form with 37 off just 25 deliveries and Matthew Wade made 32 as the tourists posted a commanding 241 for eight, with Abdul Razzaq taking 3-39 off nine overs.
Chasing a revised D/L target of 239 off 36 overs, the hosts were dismissed for just 136 thanks to McKay’s 4-31 as only Greg Smith, who top-scored with 44, and Matthew Boyce coped against the international pace attack.
Stand-in captain Josh Cobb asked Australia to bat first, only to see Warner and Wade find the boundary with ease early on: both crunched Nathan Buck short balls to the midwicket fence.
When Razzaq found his line and length, he troubled the Australia openers, getting his reward in the 15th over by trapping Wade, pushing forward, in front to end his 52-ball innings.
Australia soon found themselves two down as Shane Watson, rocking on to the back foot, pulled a short delivery to a diving Michael Thornely on the deep midwicket boundary to provide debutant left-arm spinner James Sykes with his first Leicestershire scalp.
Skipper Michael Clarke upped the tempo by hitting a maximum over long-on, but was bowled by Thornely for 29 trying to replicate the same aggression next ball.
Warner’s decision to give up his wicket at the rain interval presented Hussey with a chance to accelerate the innings, the right-hander hitting Cobb’s spin over extra-cover and deep midwicket.
But Thornely claimed his second catch when Hussey hooked a short Nadeem Malik delivery down his throat at deep midwicket.
Razzaq returned at the death to bowl George Bailey and pin McKay lbw, either side of Steven Smith finding his namesake, Greg, at long-on to give Buck his only reward.
Cobb lobbed James Pattinson to Warner at cover and McKay trapped Jacques du Toit in front eight overs into their reply.
Smith and Boyce provided some fluent resistance with a third-wicket stand of 59 until the latter, on 35, found Clarke at backward point off Xavier Doherty.
Watson enhanced Australia’s chances of bowling their opponents out with the wickets of Thornely and Preston Mommsen, who were tamely prodding behind and bowled in the space of three balls.
Smith refused to get tied down, helping his side into three figures, until his dismissal, deceived by a McKay slower ball to be taken at backward point, signalled the end of his side’s slim hopes of pulling off a shock.
Steven Smith lit up the latter stages of the match, holding on to an exceptional catch running back from midwicket to dismiss Paul Dixey and give McKay another victim, before Leicestershire’s lower order disintegrated.