Australia Begin World Cup Defence In Fine Style
Australia got their Cricket World Cup defence off to a winning start as they overpowered Zimbabwe to claim a 91-run win in their Group A game in Ahmedabad.
They were made to work hard for their runs but a late flurry in the batting Power Play saw them reach 262 for six before Zimbabwe were then bowled out for 171 as Australia completed their 30th World Cup game in a row without a defeat.
Michael Clarke's unbeaten 58, along with late cameos of 14 in eight balls from David Hussey and 11 in four from Steve Smith helped Australia reach a competitive score. Mitchell Johnson also chipped in with an unbeaten seven in three deliveries.
Zimbabwe then found Australia's bowlers - particularly pace trio Johnson, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait, too difficult to handle and were unable to negotiate 50 overs or ever look like threatening Australia's score.
Right from the opening over of the match, Zimbabwe bowled tidily, opening the bowling with spinner Ray Price and playing to their strengths, only 11 overs of pace were bowled at all.
Australia made a steady start, openers Shane Watson (79) and Brad Haddin (29) taking their time to get in, Haddin using up 66 deliveries before he was trapped in front - following a successful review - by Prosper Utseya.
Watson and Ricky Ponting (28) then departed in the 32nd and 33rd over respectively - Watson trapped in front by leg-spinner Graeme Cremer and Ponting run out by Chris Mpofu.
Clarke, who faced 55 balls and hit four fours, along with Cameron White, who made 22, Hussey and Smith, then recovered the innings and helped the reigning champions acclerate towards the end, despite wickets also falling as they stepped up the run-rate.
Mpofu bowled White and had Smith caught by Regis Chakabva to pick up two for 58 while there was also a wicket for Ray Price, who had Hussey bowled.
Zimbabwe were then tied down by opening bowlers Lee and Tait and before long they began to lose wickets, Charles Coventry offering Lee a caught and bowled when he mistimed a cross-batted shot having made 14.
They then lost three wickets for four runs when Tatenda Taibu (7), Craig Ervine (0) and Brendan Taylor (16) fell, Tait bowling Taylor and Johnson dismissing the others.
Zimbabwe were in as much trouble when Australia introduced their spinners, Jason Krejza having Elton Chigumbura (14) caught behind and Chakabva (6) trapped in front while David Hussey had Utseya caught by Ponting for 24.
Cremer hit four fours on his way to 37 in 51 balls and Sean Williams made 28 to become Zimbabwe's best performers with the bat but faced with a decent total and a charged-up Australian outfirt, they had needed much more.
Johnson proved the pick of the bowlers with four for 19, Tait took two for 34 and Krejza two for 28.
Australia aim for their 31st straight match without defeat when they play New Zealand on 25th February while Zimbabwe play Canada on 28th February.
© Cricket World 2011