AFGHANISTAN was beaten but far from disgraced in its first ever one-day international against Australia.
In what was only their second ODI against a full-member ICC team, the cricketing minnows were dismissed for 206 in 43.5 overs in reply to Australia's 8-272 in Sharjah.
Opener Matthew Wade hit a career-best 75, while captain Michael Clarke, who batted at three, also scored 75. The pair shared a second-wicket partnership of 131.
Veteran Mike Hussey ensured Australia finished strongly by smashing 49 from 37 balls before he was out in the final over.
Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc gave the Afghanistan batsmen a warm welcome to the big time by taking two of the first four wickets to fall as Afghanistan was reduced to four for 49 before Ashgar Stanizkai, who made 66 before becoming one of man-of-the-match Starc's four wickets, led the fight back.
Starc finished with four for 47, while James Pattinson took three for 46.
"Afghanistan played quite well," Starc said. "They put up a fight, surprised us with how well they fielded and they batted quite well too. It was a competitive match for us."
Australia faces Pakistan in a three-match ODI series starting in Sharjah tomorrow, while Afghanistan, which lost by seven wickets against Pakistan in its previous ODI with a leading side, now heads to Trinidad to continue preparations for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka next month.
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