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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > PTI > Report

Australia too good for Zimbabwe

February 24, 2003 20:59 IST

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Australia comfortably overcame a spirited batting performance by Zimbabwe to score their fourth consecutive win in the World Cup at Bulawayo on Monday and almost secure a place in the Super Six from Group A.

Zimbabwe, electing to bat first, scored a competitive 246 for nine from their stipulated 50 overs, mainly due to the efforts of Andy Flower, who top-scored with 62, and a blistering 28-ball 54 by Andy Blignaut.

However, the total could hardly stretch the defending champions who romped home in 47.3 overs with seven wickets to spare.

The victory gave Australia 16 points with two matches to go against minnows Namibia and England and only a miracle can now deny them a place in the next round. India and England have 12 points each from four matches while Zimbabwe has eight.

Pakistan, who have four points from three games, need to win all their remaining matches to entertain any hopes for qualifying for the Super Six.

For Australia, Adam Gilchrist emerged as the top-scorer, making a characteristically belligerent 65-ball 61 that included eight hits to the fence. Damien Martyn remained unbeaten on 50 while Darren Lehmann made 56 not out.

Gilchrist, dropped quite early in his innings, and Mathew Hayden provided Australia a familiar flying start, putting on 89 runs in the first 15 overs. Gilchrist, who struck eight fours, easily outscored his partner as he thrashed the Zimbabwe new ball bowlers and raced to his 28th one-day half century off just 41 deliveries.

Hayden, on the other hand, was not very fluent though he did produce a few sparkling shots, mainly straight down the ground. He was the first wicket to fall, caught by Grant Flower off Douglas Hondo, for 34 that came off 39 balls and included five fours.

The dismissal of Hayden slowed down things a bit for Australia as captain Ricky Ponting and Gilchrist added only 24 runs for the second wicket in just over seven overs before the wicketkeeper batsman was dismissed by Douglas Marillier.

Ponting shared another 43-run stand for the third wicket with Martyn before being dismissed, caught and bowled, by spinner Brian Murphy.

But that was the last success for Zimbabwe as Martyn and Lehmann saw Australia through.  

The day's most entertaining knock, however, came from the unheralded Blignaut whose blazing knock was mainly responsible for ensuring a decent score for Zimbabwe.

Blignaut smashed eight fours and two sixes to infuse life into the Zimbabwe innings which was in shambles at 142 for six in the 37th over.

Blignaut plundered 18 runs from a Jason Gillespie over, including four boundaries, before hitting spinner Brad Hogg for two sixes and a four in the next over.

Blignaut was finally out when Brett Lee managed to hold on to a blinding return catch in the 45th over. Heath Streak then chipped in with a 19-ball 28 not out with two fours and a six while wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu played a useful knock of 23.

Earlier, the Flower brothers had resurrected the Zimbabwe innings with a 84-run stand for the third wicket after Gillespie had dismissed both the openers cheaply.

During his knock, Andy Flower became the highest run-getter for Zimbabwe in World Cups, surpassing Dave Houghton's 567 runs when he reached 24.

The two brothers were batting nicely when disaster struck Zimbabwe in the form of the run out of Grant Flower who hesitated going for a second run and paid the penalty. Grant Flower scored 37 off 58 balls with four fours.

Soon after Andy Flower was also dismissed, bowled by Hogg with flipper. Hogg also claimed the wickets of Dion Ebrahim (15) and Marillier off successive deliveries which left Blignaut with a perfect setting to launch his onslaught.

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