Tri-Series Fourth match, at Harare Sports Club Result: Australia (209/9) lost to Zimbabwe (211/7) by three wickets.
Zimbabwe on Sunday beat Australia for the first time in 31 years.
But there were scary moments along the way. First, superb bowling by the Zimbabwe spinners had Australia on the ropes, only for three vital chances to go down. Then facing a difficult target of 210 runs, Zimbabwe were 100 for two wickets when the middle order collapsed.
But then came a wonderful partnership of 55, unbroken, between Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya, against great odds and amid immense tension, that took Zimbabwe to victory. An incredible huge six by the diminutive Utseya, over midwicket off Australia’s fastest bowler Mitchell Starc, completed an historic victory for Zimbabwe.
With the weather fine and the pitch taking spin, Zimbabwe made only one change in their team this time, bringing in Donald Tiripano for the erratic Brian Vitori. Australia made three changes, perhaps resting players rather than dropping them: the captain Michael Clarke declared himself fit to return and came into the side along with seam bowler Ben Cutting and spinner Nathan Lyon, replacing Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson and Kane Richardson.
John Nyumbu bowled the second over and immediately found both turn and bounce, troubling Phil Hughes in a maiden over. Hughes is seen as a comparatively poor player of spin, but in fact it was Aaron Finch who was Nyumbu’s first victim, in his next over, bowled flat-footed for 11 to a ball that spun in to him.
Nyumbu kept in the game when Hughes, on 10, tried to sweep his fellow off-spinner Prosper Utseya, only to slice the ball to Nyumbu at slip. George Bailey scored just a single before he was bowled by a superb delivery from the left-arm spinner Sean Williams that drifted and spun across him. Australia were 39 for three in the 13th over.
Glenn Maxwell was not to be cowed by the situation, and he swung a ball from Utseya over the square-leg boundary for six. But when he had 13 he edged a ball from the fourth spinner in line, off-spinner Malcolm Waller, to the keeper, only for Brendan Taylor put it down. Next ball, however, Waller beat him completely and bowled him for 13: 57 for four after 17 overs.
The players and the crowd were jubilant. It could have been worse, as Mitchell Marsh was dropped first ball off a sharp chance to short leg off Nyumbu, and this was to prove a costly miss.
Clarke was still batting safely and calmly, and with Marsh began to build a solid partnership, concentrating on working the ball away for ones and twos, and letting the boundaries take care of themselves. They put on 40 together before Zimbabwe turned to pace, bringing on Tiripano, and in his first over Marsh drove uppishly and was caught low down at extra cover for 15: 97 for five in the 29th over.
Zimbabwe were alive again.
The hundred came up in the 32nd over, and then Clarke’s fifty in the following over, off 80 balls. Brad Haddin was a good man to come in at this stage, but he nearly threw his wicket away; tempted by Waller to go for a big hit, he skied it towards mid-on, but Waller misjudged it as he raced for it and the chance was lost. Again this was to prove costly, more so than the missing of Marsh.
In running two for a straight drive Clarke aggravated his hamstring injury, slowing down the running between wickets. On 17, Haddin was again dropped from a skier off Utseya, Tendai Chatara running behind the keeper but failing to hold it. Shortly after this Clarke, on 66, was forced to retire hurt. This was doubly unfortunate for Australia, as his replacement, James Faulkner, miscued an off-side nudge off Utseya and was superbly caught by Nyumbu low at slip, first ball: 147 for six.
In the next over, Williams bowled Mitchell Starc for three, but then followed a good fighting partnership between Haddin and Cutting, who both hit hard as the overs began to run out. Haddin hammered Chatara for two big sixes, over cow corner and long off, in the penultimate over, denying Zimbabwe the satisfaction of restricting Australia to a total of below 200 for the first time. It also brought up the fifty partnership off 33 balls.
In the final over, Cutting was run out for 26 off 22 balls, and then Haddin fell for 49 off 66 balls, caught on the long-on boundary off Tiripano: 202 for nine. Clarke returned to the crease to accompany Nathan Lyon, who hit an obliging full toss for six, but only managed a single off another full toss for the last ball.
The final total then was 209 for nine wickets, Clarke not out with 68. This was the lowest total Australia has ever made in a One-Day International (ODI) match against Zimbabwe, beating 225 for eight at Sydney in 2003/04. It would have been considerably lower had Zimbabwe held their chances.
There were two wickets each to Utseya, Williams and Tiripano, with Williams (two for 21 off his 10 overs) having much the best figures. Spinners were responsible for 36 of the 50 overs bowled.
Having allowed Australia off the hook, Zimbabwe had what was a difficult target to win on a difficult pitch, even allowing for the shortage of spinners in the Australian team.
The first two overs of their innings were maidens. After 11 overs of pace, Zimbabwe had reached 41 for no wicket, with Tinotenda Mawoyo playing the anchor role while Sikandar Raza Butt was as usual more mercurial. Then Australia brought on Lyon with his off-breaks, and off the second ball Raza tried to cut a ball too close to him and was caught high at slip. He made 22 off 32 balls.
Hamilton Masakadza came out looking far too aggressive for his own good, but Mawoyo was next to go, unwisely trying to force a short but bouncing ball from Lyon and playing it on to his stumps via the inside edge. His 15 was his highest ODI score, the total was 44 for two and it seemed that Zimbabwe were on the downward slide again.
Bailey, deputising for Clarke in the field and desperate for spin, used the part-time left-armer Finch, and this proved an error. He pitched too short, and the grateful batsmen feasted: Masakadza hitting a long hop for six over long on and Taylor, who had been aggressive from the start after his recent poor run, helping himself to two lofted boundaries in the same area; 16 came off the over and the pressure eased.
Masakadza and Taylor continued to score regularly and without undue difficulty, and Clarke returned to the field to take charge. The hundred came up in the 22nd over and the large crowd, scenting a win, grew ever more vibrant. But then Starc returned, and his second ball burst through Masakadza’s defences and knocked out his off stump; he made 18 and the score was 100 for three, evenly balanced again. Yet again, a major partnership had promised but failed to deliver.
Minutes later, Australia took a grip on the match once more. A superbly flighted ball from Lyon deceived Taylor, beat his defensive stroke as he groped forward and hit his off stump. Taylor made 32 off 26 balls and was perhaps rather too aggressive when Zimbabwe needed him to stay there.
Waller and Williams now had to lead a recovery, if there was to be one. Williams wasted his chance. He reverse-swept Lyon for four. Trying it again, he miscued and was brilliantly caught at what had been slip by Clarke; 106 for five.
Chigumbura came in and immediately hammered his first and third balls over mid-on for four. He missed the third, which almost bowled him, going instead for two byes. It looked rather too frenetic when cool heads were needed. In contrast, Waller seemed so out of form that he could scarcely hit the ball off the square. At least they saw off Lyon, whose invaluable four for 44 off his 10 overs turned the match for Australia.
Waller, just as he was beginning to look more positive, popped a simple return catch to Maxwell and departed for 11: 142 for six.
Zimbabwe now needed 68 more runs, leaving Chigumbura once again with a very insipid tail. Tiripano (3) fell at 156 for seven. With the crowd cheering every run, Utseya proved a stubborn partner for Chigumbura, who had settled down to play a very responsible innings. The score crept ever closer, despite the brilliance of the Australian ground fielding.
With five overs left, 16 runs were needed. There was a vital moment as Chigumbura popped a ball just over the head of cover, but it brought him his fifty off 61 balls. Utseya, growing in confidence, hit a ball from Faulkner over mid-on for four. Most of the crowd were on their feet now, awaiting the climax.
Utseya hit a ball that nearly carried to mid-off for a catch, with nine needed, then hit a three, superbly saved, to deep square leg. Chigumbura scored a single to third man, and then, amazingly, a superb flick over the midwicket boundary by Utseya brought the match to a sudden, electric finish, to the ecstasy of the crowd.
It had been a great match, and Chigumbura (52 not out) and Utseya (30 not out) had brought Zimbabwe to their first victory over Australia since the first time the teams met in 1983.
Tri-Series, third match, at Harare Sports Club Result: South Africa (231) beat Zimbabwe (170) by 61 runs.
It was a day to remember for Prosper Utseya, in the third match of the Triangular One-Day International (ODI) series, at the Harare Sports Club.
The Zimbabwe off-spin bowler turned the course of the South African innings with a remarkable hat trick, only the second for Zimbabwe in ODI matches, after a superb opening partnership of 142 runs had threatened to take the match out of Zimbabwe’s hands.
But, set a target of 232 to win, Zimbabwe’s batting never rose properly to the challenge, and the rest was another victory for South Africa, this time by a margin of 61 runs.
It was another warm August day in Harare, with a similar pitch to that used when Zimbabwe played Australia: slow with little grass, better for the spinner than the quick. Zimbabwe made two changes from their team for that match, replacing Tinashe Panyangara (suspended) and Richmond Mutumbami (who was hit by a ball and fractured his forearm in practice yesterday) with Malcolm Waller and Brian Vitori, Brendan Taylor keeping wicket.
South Africa made three changes. AB de Villiers, who was unwell, stood down and Hashim Amla took over as captain. Also omitted were the pace bowlers Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, to be replaced by Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso. Rilee Rossouw stood in for de Villiers.
Zimbabwe won the toss and, as usual, put the opposition in.
John Nyumbu opened the bowling with his off-spin, and bowled a maiden over to Amla. Tendai Chatara opened from the other end and after four overs the score was 14 without loss. At this point Vitori replaced Nyumbu, and off his first ball Amla drove back down the pitch and Vitori missed the chance: the ball hit him on the shoulder and rebounded to mid-on, where the fielder just failed to hold the catch. Amla celebrated with fours through square leg off the next two deliveries.
The batsmen now began to take their toll of bowling that was not always accurate enough for the purpose. The spin of Prosper Utseya and Sean Williams slowed the scoring somewhat, but Quinton de Kock, the more aggressive of the pair, reached his fifty off 45 balls. The hundred came up off the 20th over, as Amla broke the shackles and hit Williams for six over long on. Soon after this, Amla reached his fifty off 70 balls.
The partnership reached 142 in the 25th over before Zimbabwe finally broke through. Amla (66 off 80 balls) was beaten and stumped as he came down the pitch to Utseya. In the bowler’s next over, he also snared de Kock, who fatally reverse-swept a ball and was superbly caught one-handed by Chatara leaping high at backward point. De Kock had made 76 off 76 balls, and South Africa were now 147 for two.
The drama was totally unexpected, as first Rossouw collected another first-ball duck, poking at a well-flighted spinning delivery and edging it to slip. David Miller played around the next ball, a straight one, and was trapped leg before wicket (lbw). The bowler and fielders celebrated wildly: this was only Zimbabwe’s second hat trick in one-day internationals, the previous one being that of Eddo Brandes against England on this same ground in 1997. South Africa suddenly found themselves on 148 for four.
The left-handed JP Duminy struggled against Utseya, and only scrapped together two singles before, four overs later, he became Utseya’s fifth victim, trapped lbw by a flighted ball with the score at 155 for five now. Ryan McLaren now joined Faf du Plessis, who looked very composed, so it came as a surprise when he pushed a ball from Nyumbu that stopped on him gently to midwicket with his score on 15: South Africa 163 for six in the 34th over.
With Dale Steyn at the crease, Zimbabwe were now into the lower order. Utseya finished his 10 overs with five wickets for 36 runs, his best ODI figures. His fellow off-spinner Nyumbu still had three overs left, however, and he quickly dismissed McLaren (6), who swept a ball on to his stumps: 179 for seven.
At 190 Nyumbu bowled Steyn behind his legs for 10, and at 195 Abbott drove a ball from Chatara to mid-off. The last pair succeeded in bringing up the 200 and actually put together the second-highest partnership of the innings. Phangiso and Imran Tahir wisely decided to take the uncomplicated route and hit when they could, and it came off. They added 36 in the final six overs before Phangiso was caught at the wicket off Chatara from the final delivery of the innings for 13, while Tahir was unbeaten on 23, only the third batsman of the innings to pass 15.
Utseya’s five wickets were the highlight of the bowling, while Nyumbu took three wickets and Chatara two. At the other end of the scale, Vitori, who was neither very fast nor accurate, gave away 50 runs off six overs.
The total of 231 was thought by many to have probably taken the match away from the fragile Zimbabwe batting on a pitch seriously helping the spinners.
Zimbabwe scored a single, to Sikandar Raza Butt, off the first 17 balls of their innings. Then Raza called for a quick single to mid-off, but Tinotenda Mawoyo was slow to respond and an excellent throw found him short of his crease. In the following over, Raza struck Abbott for a superb six over extra cover, and followed it with a powerful back-foot drive to the cover boundary off Steyn. Hamilton Masakadza on five was fortunate in skying a hook off Steyn that fell clear of the fielders, but in Abbott’s next over he played it more successfully, pulling a big six that landed well up on the mound. Masakadza actually swept Steyn to fine leg for four, and the brilliant strokes brought the crowd to life.
The arrival of Phangiso with his left-arm spin ended a thrilling partnership, however. Masakadza played a risky sweep off the third ball, which went for four, but then drove loosely at the fourth and was bowled through the gate for 25. Taylor was very close to being lbw without scoring, as he swept and missed at a ball that may have just hit him outside the line of the off stump. It did him no good, though, as in the next over, still without scoring, he groped forward and, like Masakadza, was bowled through the gate. It was alarming to see such a glaring technical weakness in Zimbabwe’s two top batsmen.
At 46 for three, Zimbabwe were decidedly in trouble.
Williams has shown fight in difficult situations before, and it became worse when Raza, tied down by the spinners, hit out unwisely at Tahir and was caught at long off for 35 off 50 balls: 70 for four. Waller, short of form and confidence, came in and had a lucky escape when an edge evaded the keeper and slip, going for four. He decided to make the most of his luck for a while, attacking the bowling o score 20 off 23 balls, but then, just as another partnership looked promising, he pulled a ball from Steyn to deep midwicket and was caught: 116 for five.
Williams and Chigumbura were probably Zimbabwe’s last hope. Williams was playing superbly, but when he had 46 off 57 balls, to his own fury, he flicked a ball from McLaren uppishly on the leg side and was caught at midwicket. Zimbabwe now were 138 for six and only a “blinder” from Chigumbura could see them through.
Unfortunately Utseya’s bowling triumphs did not inspire his batting and he made five before being caught behind off McLaren, while Nyumbu followed in same manner next ball – although in his case the ball apparently hit only the arm guard. Chigumbura now decided to hit out, with only two genuine tail-enders to follow. He hit Steyn for two fours, but then pulled a catch to deep square leg and Zimbabwe’s hopes were over. He made 22 off 29 balls and the score was 161 for nine.
The last pair had a few aggressive swings before the innings closed for 170. There were three wickets each for Steyn and McLaren, and two for Phangiso, who struck the most vital blows at the most vital time.
Zimbabwe did at least compete for much of this match, but again the batting failed at the crunch, and the failure to build a major partnership between batsmen at any stage was glaring.
Tri-Series, second ODI, at Harare Sports Club Result: Australia (327/7) lost to South Africa (328/3) by seven wickets.
This was a superb match between arguably the two top teams in the world. Both did superbly, particularly with the bat, with the impressive and sometimes devastating Australian total of 327 for seven wickets being overhauled, with time to spare, by the remarkable and clinical South Africans.
Aaron Finch for Australia and Faf du Plessis for South Africa celebrated the occasion with outstanding centuries, but they were topped by an even more brilliant innings of 136 not out by the South African captain, A.B. de Villiers, that enabled his team to win with more than three overs to spare.
On another warm, sunny day at Harare Sports Club, South Africa won the toss and put Australia in to bat.
The Australians caused a surprise by dropping their one specialist spinner, Nathan Lyon, and replacing him with a batsman in Phil Hughes. Although the pitch looked to have slightly more grass and moisture than that for the first match on Monday, it was still expected to be slow.
South Africa played an anticipated 11, including Imran Tahir as their spinner, and returning to their first-choice pace attack of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, with Wayne Parnell taking the place of Vernon Philander, who is injured. Ryan McLaren made a fourth seamer.
Australia immediately looked to seize the initiative, with Hughes (a hook) and Finch (straight drive) both scoring fours off Steyn’s first over, and then took another nine runs off Parnell’s first over.
After that, both bowlers tightened up, but the batsmen kept the score ticking over with well-run ones and twos. Hughes took most of the bowling and was the more aggressive of the two, with Finch, normally the dynamic hitter, content to play second fiddle this time. Hughes went to his fifty just after the drinks break, having faced 56 balls, but looked less convincing against the spinners. He did not last much longer, though, as at 51 he drove a low catch straight at extra cover off Tahir and Australia were 92 for one in the 19th over.
The hundred came up in the 21st over. The scoring rate slowed, but Finch reached his fifty off 67 balls, and in the same over Tahir trapped Mitchell Marsh leg before wicket with his faster ball for five: 115 for two. George Bailey joined Finch and the two played steadily together for a long time, scoring at better than a run a ball but without a flurry of boundaries. Finch reached his fourth ODI century off 111 balls, and Bailey hit a superbly timed six over long off, off Morkel, to reach his fifty off 44 balls.
In the next over Finch skied a pull to deep square leg off McLaren and departed for 102 off 116 balls, nine of them fours and one six. The score was 229 for three, the partnership having put on 114 runs in 15.3 overs.
Bailey did not last much longer, going for 66 as he was dismayed to be given out caught at the wicket off Morkel off a ball that hit his trouser pocket: 242 for four. Glenn Maxwell on this occasion did not thrive, skying a catch behind the bowler for seven. Steve Smith dominated the later stages of the innings, scoring 31 off 19 balls, to be followed by another lightning blast from Mitchell Johnson, who this time scored 23 not out off 8 balls. Twenty runs came off the final over, bowled by Parnell, including two ferocious pulls for six by Johnson.
South Africa had a very slow over rate, finishing 20 minutes late. The final Australian total was 327 for seven wickets, setting South Africa a daunting target. There were two wickets each for Morkel, McLaren and Tahir, with Tahir alone returning reasonable figures of two for 45 off his 10 overs.
South Africa began their innings at a fine rate, with both Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla showing purpose and confidence against the pace of Johnson and Mitchell Starc. They put up 44 runs in just over seven overs before Amla cut hard at a ball from Kane Richardson, but backward point took a good low catch to send him back for 24.
De Kock soon followed, miscuing a pull to be caught in the deep for 19 off 18 balls. With the score at 51 for two after nine overs, Australia had now pulled back.
Du Plessis was in fine form, however, and smoothly kept the score moving along, bringing up the hundred in the 18th over. De Villiers had less of the bowling, but he found his touch and was soon closing the gap on du Plessis, who reached his fifty off 54 balls.
In the 28th over South Africa passed the halfway mark towards their target, with only two wickets down.
On 78 de Villiers had a lucky escape, as he popped a gentle return catch off a slower ball from Johnson, who did not pick it up until it had lobbed by his left shoulder. The batsman celebrated by edging the next ball in the air through the vacant first-slip position to the boundary. In the following over, bowled by Richardson, he cut a ball to Bailey at backward point, and another chance went down.
Du Plessis was first to his century, driving a ball to the extra-cover boundary, when he and de Villiers had both been together on 97. It was his first in ODIs and came off 95 balls, and in the same over the captain reached his 18th ODI century off 82 balls, with an aerial stroke in the same place. It seemed that nothing could now stop these two as they plundered the hapless bowling almost at will. But perhaps this led to over-confidence, as du Plessis on 106 went for a hook off a high bouncer and skied a catch to midwicket off Starc. He hit 11 fours and a six, and the partnership had put on 206 runs in 29 overs.
As JP Duminy arrived at the wicket, 71 runs were needed in 12 overs with seven wickets in hand. It was never a problem, as de Villiers, although hampered by cramp in his left leg, batted through to the end for an unbeaten 136. Duminy, scoring off almost every ball, finished with 33 not out off 29 balls. Starc took two for 62, with none of the other bowlers featuring.
The anticipated battle between Steyn and Johnson as the two best fast bowlers in the world never really materialised, as the teeth of both were blunted by the slow pitch. Of the two on this day, however, Johnson perhaps found a bit more pace and bounce, although in the end Steyn produced slightly the better figures: one for 54 beats none for 63. Neither was able to cause the opposition great problems in these conditions.
It was remarkable that a crowd of perhaps more than two thousand should attend a match when their own team was not playing, but such is the quality of the two – and they lived up to their reputations!
The next One-Day International match of the triangular series at Harare Sports Club is between Zimbabwe and South Africa on Friday.
Tri-Series first match, at Harare Sports Club Result: Australia (350/6) beat Zimbabwe (152) by 198 runs.
An Australian batting display that produced 350 runs, the highest total that country has ever scored against Zimbabwe in a One-Day International (ODI) match, paved the way for their heaviest victory over Zimbabwe, with more than 10 overs to spare.
There were punishing innings from Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Marsh before Glenn Maxwell tore the bowling to shreds in making 93 at better than two runs a ball at Harare Sports Club (HSC).
Zimbabwe’s reply looked like putting up a fight when Sikandar Raza Butt and Hamilton Masakadza saw off the searing pace of Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc, but after that the innings subsided weakly.
Zimbabwe made three changes from the team that played the last ODI against South Africa at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo last Thursday, bringing back Brendan Taylor, Tinotenda Mawoyo and Tendai Chatara in place of Malcolm Waller, Luke Jongwe and Tafadzwa Kamungozi.
For Australia, Michael Clarke had injured his ankle, so George Bailey took over the captaincy. Haddin, the wicketkeeper, was to open the innings with Finch.
The weather was typical August in Zimbabwe, warm and sunny, while the pitch was dry and rather slow.
Zimbabwe, as is their usual practice on winning the toss – especially at Harare Sports Club – put the opposition in to bat, hoping as Elton Chigumbura said to take advantage of any moisture in the pitch.
No moisture at any time looked evident.
The Australian openers played themselves in for four overs, scoring eight runs off tight bowling, and then began to attack. Tinashe Panyangara began the innings with three tight overs, but in his fourth, Finch launched two deliveries over long on for six. He and Haddin did not allow any of the bowlers to settle and, at morning drinks, had reached 92 without loss, with Finch on 47 and Haddin 40.
Haddin hit the second ball after the break, from Chigumbura, over long off for six, but then tried to block the next delivery, which bounced down and on to his leg stump. He was out bowled for 46 off 58 balls, the total being 98 in the 19th over.
With Marsh joining him, Finch – who had crawled through the forties – finally reached his fifty off 59 balls. Marsh, standing tall, hit some fine off-side strokes, although not always with certainty, and he nearly ran out Finch when he called for a quick single and Chatara superbly threw the stumps down.
Nyumbu took the wicket of Finch, who swept a low catch straight to backward square leg and departed for 67 off 89 balls, with five fours and three sixes: 145 for two in the 30th over.
Drinks again cost Australia a wicket, as immediately after the second break Bailey sliced a ball behind point off Sean Williams and Utseya did very well to hold the catch as Nyumbu also ran in to attempt the catch and collided with him. Bailey scored 14: 178 for three in the 37th over.
Some brutal batting followed, with Marsh and Maxwell taking apart first the Zimbabwe spinners and then the seamers. Maxwell played the most remarkable stroke of all, as a full-blooded reverse hit off Sean Williams went for a low skimming six over what had been point. The batsmen took some risks and in this period several mishits just failed to go to hand.
Maxwell raced to his fifty off 28 balls, and soon afterwards the hundred partnership came up after less than nine overs. Finally Marsh fatally drove a catch to long on off Chatara and departure for a fine innings of 89 off 83 balls: 287 for four in the 46th over.
The Australians continued to hit at everything, but Steven Smith, backing up too hopefully, was well run out by Sikandar Raza from mid-off for one. Then Maxwell hit Chatara for two successive sixes, only to be very well caught off a huge skier by Mawoyo at long off for 93 off just 46 balls. He hit nine fours and five sixes.
Johnson (20 not out off 10 balls) had time to hit a six into the commentary box window and James Faulkner hit the final ball of the innings straight for four to take the final score to 350 for six wickets – the highest ever scored at HSC. 147 runs came off the final 10 overs. Chatara took two expensive wickets, and Utseya had none for 44 off his 10 overs. Chigumbura also did a valuable job as third seamer and bowled skilfully to take one wicket for 33 runs off six overs.
Zimbabwe had a completely new opening pair in Mawoyo and Raza. With only a single on the board, Starc brought a ball back in to trap Mawoyo leg before wicket (lbw). They clearly had difficulty in adjusting to the extra pace. That extra pace was clearly shown when Masakadza slashed at a ball from Starc which flew over the third-man boundary for six. Raza appeared virtually strokeless for a long time, but then finally shook himself free of his shackles and cut Kane Richardson for two slashing fours.
The pair showed great spirit in batting together until the score reached 64, when, after a fine fighting innings, Raza fell to a soft dismissal, sweeping a ball from Nathan Lyon straight to backward square leg for 33. Taylor did not last long when Johnson returned, playing a weak stroke outside the off stump to be caught, a juggling catch, at first slip. Zimbabwe were now 83 for three in the 19th over.
Chigumbura was not to play a heroic role as he had done against South Africa. Johnson hit him a nasty blow on the helmet, and then, facing Faulkner and still without scoring, Chigumbura attempted a hook and skied a catch to the keeper, reducing Zimbabwe to 86 for four. One run later, Williams drove a simple catch straight to cover off Marsh, and the Zimbabwe innings was disintegrating.
Masakadza was still there, however, and he brought up the team hundred in the 25th over. He reached an admirable fifty off 75 balls, one of the best of his career. He then lost Richmond Mutumbami, trapped lbw by Lyon for 10: 117 for six in the 30th over. Then, sadly, Masakadza himself spoiled an otherwise outstanding innings with a soft dismissal, leaping down the pitch to slog at one of Steve Smith’s leg-breaks and being easily stumped. He made 70 off 91 balls and left the score at 138 for seven.
The last three wickets could only scramble together another 14 runs. At least the last pair did take the score past 150 and kept the margin of defeat to less than 200 runs. But most of the innings was a disappointing surrender, especially sad to see after Masakadza and Raza had shown that they could handle the worst the Australian pacemen could hurl down at them.
There were two wickets each for Starc and Lyon, and three to Smith, probably the luckiest bowler of the day, as he profited from some of the poorest strokes of the day.