CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand had a resounding win over South Africa while Sri Lanka was beaten by Zimbabwe in surprising results from two of Wednesday’s four Cricket World Cup warm-up matches.
Cup co-host New Zealand continued its impressive recent form by beating favored South Africa by 134 runs. Brendon McCullum made 59 and Kane Williamson 66 as New Zealand scored 331-8 in 50 overs before bowling out South Africa for 197.
Sri Lanka’s confidence took a big hit when Zimbabwe surpassed its total of 281-3 in only 45.2 overs, led by Hamilton Masakadza’s unbeaten 117 from 119 balls. Sri Lanka opens the tournament against New Zealand on Saturday in Christchurch.
At the Melbourne Cricket Ground, captain Michael Clarke returned from hamstring surgery to top-score for Australia against the United Arab Emirates with 64 runs as the hosts, winning the toss, scored 304-8 in their 50 overs. Aaron Finch added 61 runs while Krishna Chandran and Nasir Aziz took three wickets each for the UAE.
Clarke, who opened the batting, had been given until Feb. 21, when Australia takes on Bangladesh in Brisbane, to prove his fitness for the tournament.
The 33-year-old Clarke had not been expected to take part in Saturday’s Australian opener at the MCG against England, but Wednesday’s performance might change that.
“We’ll sum it up tomorrow, see how he pulls up,” coach Darren Lehmann said. “The fielding is going to be the big thing. He’s been batting really well for the last couple of weeks, so no dramas there.”
At the Sydney Cricket Ground, England won the toss and scored 250-8 in its innings, with Joe Root making 85 and Gary Ballance adding 57. Yasir Shan let the Pakistan bowlers with 3-45 from 10 overs.
Pakistan opens its World Cup campaign on Sunday in Adelaide against neighbor and chief rival India.
Dimuth Karunaratne top-scored with 58 in Sri Lanka’s 279-8 as it batted first after winning the toss. Jeevan Mendis made 51 and Mahela Jayawardene and Lahiru Thirimanne both made 30 but none of the top-order batsmen was able to go on and make a big score.
Masakadza then leg Zimbabwe to a comfortable win, sharing a 127-run stand with Brendan Taylor (63), and then an unbroken 119-run partnership with Sean Williams (51). Williams produced an outstanding all-round performance, taking 3-35 from 10 overs of left-arm spin.