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Zimbabwe v Australia – Review & Reaction of the 4th Match of Zimbabwe Tri-series

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Last Updated on 10 years by Charbel Coorey

Zimbabwe hadn’t beaten Australia in a One Day International dating back to 1983. 31 years. Fast forward to 31st August 2014 and Zimbabwe have finally done it. And what an awesome performance it was, too! From the opening moments of the Australian innings, you just thought that the impossible could be possible with the intensity and appetite for wickets that Zimbabwe showed, exposing Australia’s continuous weakness against spin. Phillip Hughes looked uncomfortable again and George Bailey inexplicably left all three stumps exposed to Sean Williams bowling around the wicket to him. On a difficult pitch, don’t make the bowler’s task easier. Zimbabwe were good enough to expose Australia’s flaws this fact is all the more impressive considering Australia thrashed the same opponent by 198 runs just last week.

Seeing the near capacity Harare crowd signing, dancing and cheering every run was refreshing to see despite being disappointed with the result as an Australian supporter. Sure, these aren’t the sort of conditions that teams will encounter at the World Cup in 6 months time but to be a great team, you need to be able to counter all conditions and still come out on top. Zimbabwe assessed the conditions better, picked the right team and choked the Australians with their spinners. Australia on the other hand, left out the promising Steven Smith which surprised me considering he’s a good player of spin bowling (uses his feet very well) and he’s a very handy legspinner who would’ve spun the ball miles on the driest surface I’ve seen in a long time. To make things worse, the Aussies picked an unfit Michael Clarke. Why take the risk with a hamstring injury? That too of Australia’s most prized batting asset right now and this while leaving out Smith. Questions were asked of the selections and Darren Lehmann and co. paid the price.

Take nothing away from Zimbabwe. They were awesome despite putting down numerous chances in the field. What a response from them after their first up thrashing by the Aussies. After that match, you would’ve been forgiven for not following this triangular tournament until the final where South Africa and Australia were bound to contest it. Now all of a sudden, Zimbabwe are in with a shot of a shock final appearance if they upset South Africa and Australia lose to the Proteas. You would’ve also been forgiven for thinking that Zimbabwe were gone at 156/7. But Elton Chigumbura showed that his ODI batting average of 24.72 after 163 matches does no justice to his talent. I’ve seen him play some fine knocks such as his 90 recently vs South Africa when his side was rolled for 165. However, this was an innings in a pressure situation – his team, so low on confidence and without a win in ODIs since leading 2-0 against Afghanistan a couple months back, had a chance of being no. 1 ranked Australia. And boy, did he deliver, smoking Nathan Lyon (Zimbabwe’s nemesis taking 4-44) down the ground for two fours in the first three balls he faced. From there, I sensed he needed a partner to dig deep and support him. Who else but Prosper Utseya.

Prosper Utseya isn’t one of the most talented cricketers going around but he has a lot of heart. I’ve considered him one to watch in many Zimbabwe games because of his wonderful control and economy rate with the ball. He’s super consistent and he also always fights hard with the bat. I remember a time in January 2009 where Zimbabwe were on the brink of an ODI defeat away to Bangladesh but he stepped up and fought it out in the middle. This was an innings on a whole other level, showing he has what it takes in a pressure situations against the Aussies, a different proposition altogether. He showed his fighting qualities with a super 30 not out, including a six to win the game off Mitchell Starc. In my opinion, he wouldn’t be out of place in the some of the stronger ODI sides in the world, including Australia’s.

For Australia, it’s back to the drawing board. As an ardent follower of the side, I don’t want to see a quality allrounder for these conditions (Smith) left out and wishing he was available during the match. I don’t want to see a lack of slower balls. I was surprised to see James Faulkner rarely use that great slower ball he has out of the back of his hand. That would’ve been very effective on the tired Harare track. South Africa’s up next and Michael Clarke is going back home. The Aussies made it clear about their desire to win this piece of silverware ahead of the World Cup. They better step it up a notch or two if they are going to do that.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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