By Suneer Chowdhary
Ahmedabad: Feb 21, 2011
Australia began slowly after winning the toss at the Motera in Ahmedabad but built the momentum towards the latter portion of the innings to get to 262 for 6 in their 50 overs. With the pitch expected to juice up a little in the second innings, it is one of those in-between totals that Zimbabwe would be happy to chase, but with an inexperienced batting line-up facing up to the extreme pace and swing of Brett Lee and Shaun Tait, life may not be that simple for Zimbabwe.
It is difficult to remember when was the last time an ODI had seen the second drinks-break been taken as late as the 40-over mark. Such was the Zimbabwean over-rate – helped no ends by the bowling of most of their overs by bowlers with run-ups that counted not more than three steps – that one almost thought that Elton Chigumbura had decided his exact bowling changes before the start of the game!
Of course, Zimbabwe were assisted by a strange tactic that Australia used at the top of the innings when two of the more aggressive players in the world decided to pat down the opposition spinners. The tactic had been to get used to the Indian conditions, probably, but to score 28 for no loss after 10 and 65 for one after 20 against an inexperienced bowling line-up was nothing short of surprising.
It is one thing to give oneself five to six overs to get one’s eye in and quite another to allow the bowling to dominate. The Aussies seemed to have allowed the latter.
That, however, will be understating the fact. And truth be told, credit must be given to both Prosper Utseya and Ray Price for the manner in which stifled the flow of runs in each of the first couple of Powerplays. Not that Shane Watson and Brad Haddin showed any urgency to take on the spinners and by the time the latter was dismissed, one almost got the sense that the wicket-keeper had paid no heed to his captain’s call to ‘stop wasting his starts.’ In a batting display so anachronistic to times today, Haddin played out 66 balls, scored 29 and was adjudged lbw through the use of UDRS.
Ponting’s entry ushered in one of Australia’s best phase in the game with a partnership that added 79 at greater than a-run-a-ball. However, Watson missed another of his century for the taking, while a freak throw from Mpofu from deep square-leg sent Ponting back.
Michael Clarke continued his new-found form from the ODIs against England to get to another half century (50 balls). His was a typically well-built innings in which he maintained that almost-100 strike-rate through the entire course of his knock, and ended unbeaten on 58 from 55.
After Cameron White’s scrappy innings of 22 was ended by Mpofu, David Hussey and Steven Smith propelled the scoring along with a total of 25 from 12 balls.
Brief scores: Australia 262 for 6 in 50 overs (Shane Watson 79, Michael Clarke 58*; Christopher Mpofu 2 for 58, Graeme Cremer 1 for 43) vs Zimbabwe.
(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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