Glenn Maxwell’s 93 at quicker than a run-a-ball helped Australia post a mammoth 350-6 as they defeated Zimbabwe by 198 runs in the opening match of a triangular series that also involves South Africa.
A 109-run stand between Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh took less than 10 overs to produce, with the Aussies scoring at seven an over throughout. With that score posted, the hosts
in Harare didn’t get near their required 351 for victory.
Australian spinners, Nathan Lyon (2-42) and Steve Smith (3-16), helped restrict Zimbabwe to just 152 all out after less than 40 overs.
Despite eventually reaching 350, Australia scored slowly to begin with. The opening pair put on 98 at the top of the order, and set a strong foundation from which George Bailey’s
side could kick on from later in the innings.
Brad Haddin (46) was the first to fall with the scoreboard reading 98-1. With Michael Clarke sitting the game out with injury, Marsh came to the crease at number three, and it wasn’t long before he unleashed an exhibition of expansive batting.
The right-hander – who also took a wicket later in the day – made 89 from just 83 deliveries, providing seven fours and four sixes in the process.
Finch was accompanied in the middle by Aaron Finch, who fell for 67 in the 30th over. At this stage, the Aussies looked unlikely to reach such a high total, with the score at 145-2.
But some late big-hitting ensured that they reached an unsurpassable score. Skipper Bailey only added 14, but his dismissal welcomed Maxwell to the crease.
Alongside Marsh, the T20 specialist only required 43 balls to add 93 runs to the cause. Both Maxwell (93) and Marsh (89) recorded their respective highest individual scores in ODI cricket.
After Sikanda Raza caught Marsh off the bowling of Tendai Chatara, Steve Smith was soon following him back to the pavilion, having been run out for just 1.
But a late unbeaten flourish from Mitchell Johnson (20) helped Australia to 350-6 after Maxwell was also removed by Chatara with two overs still to spare.
Early Zimbabwean recovery
The reply couldn’t have started much worse, with Tino Mawoyo being trapped lbw by Mitchell Starc for just 1. With the scoreboard reading 1-1 in the second over, Zimbabwe had their work cut out to get anywhere near the victory target of 351.
Nevertheless, Sikandar Raza (33) and Hamilton Masakadza (70) tried to revive their team’s chances with a second-wicket stand of 63. Masakadza scored his side’s solitary six of the day, in contrast to 15 struck by their opponents in yellow.
Despite some resistance offered by their top-order, Zimbabwe struggled with the bat, and
only two other batsmen made it to double figures.
Raza became Lyon’s first victim of the day before Finch caught Brendan Taylor (10) off the bowling of Johnson. Low scores from Elton Chigumbura (0) and Sean Williams (1) left the
home side struggling at 88-5 in the 23rd over, facing an ever-rising required run rate.
Richmond Mutumbami (11) hung around to offer support to top-scorer Masakadza, but both batsmen were undone by the spin of Lyon and Smith respectively.
All-rounder Smith finally undid the Zimbabwean number three – having him stumped out of his ground by Brad Haddin.
If the game wasn’t already a foregone conclusion, it was now. Smith claimed two more wickets before the game was up, tearing through the tailend to complete the match as
the leading wicket-taker with 3-16 from just 4.3 overs.
Australia meet South Africa in the second ODI of the tournament on Wednesday.