|Scorecard:||Zimbabwe v Australia|
Batting first, Australia cruised to another straight-forward victory over Zimbabwe by 139 runs. There was never any doubt as to the result, but the tourists were still not at peak performance and Zimbabwe’s batsmen made their bowlers struggle a bit before a final collapse.
Australia dominance was not immediately evident after Tatenda Taibu put them in to bat, as Douglas Hondo’s first ball beat Adam Gilchrist’s bat and rapped him on his pad, and his third was edged to the boundary – though it would have been a comfortable catch had a third slip been in place. Gilchrist then asserted himself with a thunderous straight-driven boundary.
Hondo and Tinashe Panyangara did indeed get enough swing to trouble the batsmen at times, but as usual Gilchrist was merciless on the loose ball. When he had 18 he hammered Panyangara chest-high straight at mid-on, who caught it easily – but umpire Ian Robinson had called no-ball. However it was not expensive, as in the next over he skyed a catch off the leading edge off Hondo and mid-off Waddington Mwayenga running round took a fine catch. He made 20, and Australia were 26 for one.
Matthew Hayden was remarkably subdued, but Michael Clarke, promoted to number three, was soon under way with three crisp boundaries, including a hit off Panyangara over extra cover that almost carried for six. But the bowler got his revenge as Clarke, on 14, drove over a full-length delivery and had his leg stump comprehensively extracted. Australia were 43 for two in the eighth over and, incredibly, Hayden had only 2 off 14 balls.
In the 12th over Hayden suddenly hammered Panyangara straight for four, to take his own total to 8. After that he slowly began to open up, although still for a long time playing second fiddle to Darren Lehmann, who soon overtook him. For a while both concentrated on the ones and twos, but as their partnership developed the boundaries began to flow, although both found timing difficult at times.
Hayden quickly followed Lehmann to his fifty, taking 72 balls against 57. They went into the sixties neck and neck, but then Lehmann tried an extravagant drive against Stuart Matsikenyeri and was bowled for 67; 180 for three in the 31st over.
Ian Harvey made a dashing start, hammering Matsikenyeri through the covers for four and then lofting occasional medium-pacer Vusi Sibanda for a superb straight six. Tawanda Mupariwa then came on and quietened him noticeably; then he drove uppishly at Matsikenyeri and was caught at extra cover for 22 off 22 balls; 219 for four.
Hayden was notable for the power of his leg-side strokes, but he tried it once too often against Mupariwa, holing out on the leg-side boundary for 87. In tighter circumstances it would be termed a soft dismissal, but again it was clear the Australians were not treating these matches seriously, as was the holding back of Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn in the batting order. Australia were 233 for five.
Martyn now came in, hitting 20 before lofting Mupariwa down the throat of long-on. Brendan Taylor bowled in an international match for the first time, gentle off-breaks, and took the wicket of Brad Hogg for 26, slicing a catch to point. Australia were 276 for seven, and batting with the sort of abandon that they would not tolerate against rated opposition.
Jason Gillespie enjoyed some lusty blows at the end, while his captain sat back and watched indulgently. Gillespie put Hondo out of action in his final over, hitting a ball back down the pitch so hard that it struck him a vicious blow in the face as it bounced up. Panyangara had already gone off with an injury, and then Vusi Sibanda ran full-tilt into an advertising board as he tried to save a boundary; fortunately, Sibanda at least did not need to leave the field.
Ponting, taking life easy, was stumped off newcomer Waddington Mwayenga for 10 in the final over, Taibu standing up to his brisk medium-paced deliveries. Gillespie finished unbeaten with 33, his highest one-day score. Matsikenyeri had the best figures for Zimbabwe of two for 43, with the others all conceding runs at more than five an over. The Australian total was 323 for eight, an impossible target for Zimbabwe against the Australian bowling, even if the team was in holiday mood.
There was a nasty injury to Hondo in his final over: Gillespie drove back powerfully down the pitch and the ball bounced up to hit the bowler a nasty blow on the jaw. Fortunately there was no permanent damage, but he had to leave the field and Mupariwa finished his over.
Stuart Matsikenyeri began aggressively as usual against the opening attack of Glenn McGrath and Gillespie, though he was lucky to be dropped by Gilchrist on 6, from a hard high chance off McGrath. He produced a superb drive for four through extra cover off the same bowler, but then Australia set back their field and, with the aid of superb ground fielding, tied him down.
Gilchrist missed another hard chance when Taylor was 7, as he gloved a ball well down the leg side that the keeper was unable to take. Apart from these chances, the batsmen looked in no particular difficulty, but the scoring rate was little over three an over. In the 15th over Matsikenyeri (27), squared up by McGrath, edged a regulation catch to first slip, and at this stage Zimbabwe were 48 for one.
Vusi Sibanda had a torrid time, especially from McGrath, as he began his innings, but he weathered the storm and played some handsome drives. But as so often he flattered only to deceive, driving Kasprowicz straight to extra cover when he had made 23. Zimbabwe at this stage were 108 for two.
Mark Vermeulen announced his intentions with three languid-looking lofted drives for four and two twos off Hogg, but Gilchrist suffered another miss when he should have been stumped down the leg side. Taylor, predictably denied his favourite front-foot drives by the canny Australian bowlers, nudged and dabbed his way along, adjusting his game with great maturity and skill. Finally he got a rare delivery pitched up to him, from Gillespie, and drove it sweetly to the boundary just to the on side of straight to reach his third successive one-day fifty. It took him 82 balls.
Taylor finally fell for 65, trying to swing Hogg down to long leg but lofting the ball to the fielder there. He had played a fine disciplined innings, deprived as he was of his favourite strokes, and it was remarkable under those circumstances that it took him only 93 balls. Zimbabwe were 163 for three in the 36th over.
It started Zimbabwe’s familiar problem, wickets in clusters. In the next over Vermeulen fell, slicing a drive off Lehmann into the gully where McGrath took a low catch. He scored 25 off 25 balls. Without addition new batsman Alester Maregwede changed his mind over a quick single, but Taibu was committed and run out at the bowler’s end for 1. Dion Ebrahim also fell for a single, beaten and trapped lbw by a sharp spinner from Hogg. It was now 168 for six.
Panyangara (1) played a crude baseball shot against Lehmann, but only succeeded in skying a return catch; the bowler did not even have to move. Mupariwa (0) swatted a catch from the same bowler into the covers, Mwayenga too failed to score, and Hondo was unfit to bat.
The last six wickets had fallen for just 21 runs, with Maregwede standing firm amid the ruins with 18 of them. Lehmann, with four for 7, was the main beneficiary, and together with his fifty this earned him the Man of the Match award.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)
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