Australia won by 198 runs © AFP
Australia won by 198 runs © AFP

Zimbabwe and Australia played the first One-Day International (ODI) of the triangular series at the Harare Sports Club on Monday. Rajarshi Majumdar looks back at some of the key moments of the match.

Australia registered a massive victory by defeating Zimbabwe by 198 runs at the Harare Sports Club. Though this victory is against a weak side, Australia have come back to One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in style and have warmed up for the bigger contests against South Africa. Let us go through some of the important highlights of the day.

Elton Chigumbura makes the wrong call: It was an all important toss for Zimbabwe. But Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura completely misread the pitch and the conditions. The pitch was a belter and it would have always favoured the batsmen. Instead of batting first, he chose to field.

Australia’s openers set the tone: Aaron Finch and Brad Haddin opened the batting for Australia. Although they began slowly, Finch did not take much time to press the accelerator. Soon, Haddin joined him and they started scoring at a brisk rate — maintaining a run rate of over five an over. They added 98 runs together until Haddin got out.

Zimbabwe bowlers pull things back in the middle overs: It was after Finch got out that Zimbabwe pulled things back. Things became really slow for Australia as Mitchell Marsh, who was new to the crease, was finding it difficult to time the ball. Finch also did not get much of the strike and he too got out soon. Australia skipper George Bailey came in an got a start but tried to hoik one over long on and edged the ball to gift his wicket away.

Mitchell Marsh-Glenn Maxwell partnership: By the time Glenn Maxwell came into bat, Marsh had already closed in on his maiden ODI half-century. The stage was set for both the batsmen to launch an attack and both these batsmen did exactly what was expected. At one stage, Australia were 210 for 3 in 40 overs. From there they went on to score 140 in the last 10, courtesy the Marsh-Maxwell partnership. Marsh started off really slowly but he picked up his strike rate as Maxwell joined him at the crease. He scored 89 runs from 83 balls. On the other hand, Maxwell almost got the fastest century by any Australian in ODIs. He made 93 runs from just 46 balls. His innings had nine boundaries and five humongous sixes in it. In tandem, they added 109 runs in just 54 balls.

Slow start for Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe had to chase down a huge target of 351 runs. They were really slow to start with. They lost their first wicket in the second over itself. Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson were bowling at a fiery pace and they were dishing out some short stuff. They did not let the Zimbabwean batsmen to settle. Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza tried to rebuild the innings but they were too slow to catch up with the required run rate.

Australia’s pace attack dominate: When you have the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and Kane Richardson in your side, you have a serious pace battery. Bailey rotated his bowlers pretty well and managed to pick up wickets at regular intervals. All of them were getting seam movements off the deck and were economical at the same time.

Zimbabwe middle-order collapses: Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura did not bother the scorers much. They all got out rather cheaply. Much was expected of them but all of them failed to deliver.

Hamilton Masakadza fights: Masakadza came into bat in the second over of their innings. He was slow initially but paced his innings pretty well. He did not get any support from the other end as he kept on losing his fellow mates at regular intervals. Therefore, he could not maintain a good strike rate nor did he manage to keep up with the required run rate. He went on to score 70 runs from 91 balls.

Australia wrap it up in style: Australian bowlers were looking to finish things off quickly once they got through the top order. Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon came in handy with their orthodox spin bowling. Smith picked up three wickets towards the end and thereby pulling down curtains on the match.

(Rajarshi Majumdar is a reporter at CricketCountry. He played cricket for all age levels under the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) for over 12 years. Apart from cricket he is an avid follower of football, supports Manchester United and a foodie at heart.)