Preview: Australia favourites in game against Zimbabwe, but...

Zimbabwe have an uphill task of causing an upset win over Australia

By Suneer Chowdhary

Ahmedabad: Feb 20, 2011

Two losses in a row in the warm-ups and the Australian fans seem to have fast forgotten the 6-1 series win over England. After all, they would still be licking their wounds from the Ashes loss and amidst that, two horrendous batting performances against India and South Africa has brought them back to the square on.

It is with this backdrop that the Australian side will take on Zimbabwe in the fourth game of the World Cup at the Motera in Ahmedabad. Fortunately for the Aussies, the Motera has a better batting surface than was on display at M Chinnawamy in Bangalore, where they had lost both their games.

And against an opposition which has been a mere shadow of their highs of 1999 and 2003, Australia will go in as favourites to register their names in the points tally.

What the Aussies will want to achieve more than just a win is flawlessness in their performance. The batting is known to collapse when faced with bowlers that send down balls off very short run-ups and that will be exactly what Zimbabwe dole out the likes of Prosper Utseya and Raymond Price bowling their brand of slow bowling.

How Australia match up to the wits of these lesser-known than the Indian and South African counterparts but very effective bowlers, will be interesting to see.

Ricky Ponting s comeback to international cricket after his injury issues was exemplary. He quickly got two consecutive half-centuries and generally showed no signs of discomfort from the broken finger. On the other hand, Cameron White and David Hussey batted like millionaires but came out paupers in the warm-ups, something that will worry the Aussies.

The absence of the elder Hussey from the squad and a batting line-up which has exhibited many mood-swings in the lead-up will be a worry for the fans.

Not that there are too many worries as far as the opposition is concerned. Zimbabwe was beaten in both their warm-up games as well. South Africa crushed them in one at Chennai on a tricky pitch while Ireland fought hard to get the better of the side in a thriller.

Apart from the captain Elton Chigumbura showing signs of why is referred to as an all-rounder in the side, there weren t too many in the top-order who got runs. Against the pace and control of Brett Lee and given their recent record against genuinely quick bowling, Zimbabwe s only counter will be based on hope than skills.

That said, Zimbabwe will open with two of their best batsmen in the couple of years in Brendan Taylor and Charles Coventry. This makes the batting a tad top-heavy and puts the onus and in turn, the pressure, on to the pair to deliver the goods. And unless they can come up with the repeat of their goods from the 2007 edition of the World T20, this match seems to be heading only one way down under.


Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (capt), Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, David Hussey, Cameron White, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, Jason Krezja, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Doug Bollinger.

Zimbabwe (from): Elton Chigumbura (capt), Regis Chakabva, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Terry Duffin, Gregory Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Raymond Price, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams, Tinashe Panyangara,

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka) and Richard Ketteborough (England).

Time: 14.30 local (09.00 GMT)

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