England's class leaves Zimbabwe floundering
England 299 for 7 (Collingwood 80*, Solanki 62) beat Zimbabwe 147 (Sibanda 41*, Harmison 3-29, Flintoff 3-11) by 152 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball
England romped to a predictably emphatic victory in their opening match of the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston, as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 147 in pursuit of an improbable 300. A woeful bowling display today meant that almost all the good work the Zimbabweans had done yesterday was squandered, and some powerful hitting by Paul Collingwood enabled England to race to 299 for 7, adding 101 runs to their overnight 198 for 5 in 12 overs to put the match out of reach. England's fast bowlers then ran through Zimbabwe's brittle batting, with Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff sharing six wickets.
When play re-started today, Collingwood took a leaf out of Andrew Flintoff's book and smacked the ball with confidence and power. He launched successive full-tosses from Douglas Hondo over the midwicket boundary, and in the last over heaved Tinashe Panyangara even further in the same direction. It was good entertainment for the sparse crowd.
Zimbabwe started promisingly, making the vital early breakthrough when Geraint Jones, after hitting some good early blows, departed rather unluckily for 38 when he jammed down on a yorker from Hondo only to see it spin back and dislodge the leg bail (220 for 6). But after that it was one-way traffic as Collingwood opened up, finishing with 80 not out off 93 balls. Ashley Giles chipped in with 23 in 22 balls as England scored almost at will in the final overs.
Zimbabwe were soon in trouble when they batted as Darren Gough, bowling into the wind, beat Brendan Taylor's bat several times, and then moved one in sharply to trap him leg-before back on his stumps for 6 (14 for 1). Then Stuart Matsikenyeri, who batted anonymously for 11 balls, was slightly unfortunate to get out playing his first aggressive shot. A short, wide one from Gough was crunched out of the middle of the bat, but straight to Collingwood at point (23 for 2).
Dion Ebrahim, who with 70 one-day games under his belt is the most experienced of the Zimbabwe squad, was perhaps unlucky to given out by Steve Bucknor after a venomous ball from Harmison spat off a length and appeared to clip his shirt-sleeve on its way through to Jones (26 for 3). Things went from bad to worse when Mark Vermeulen got a thick edge from a flat-footed drive to leave Zimbabwe crumbling on 26 for 4.
Vusi Sibanda showed a glimpse of his talent, scooping Harmison for six over fine leg during his partnership with Tatenda Taibu, but Flintoff then re-arranged his stumps after a barrage of short deliveries (64 for 5). Elton Chigumbura got going with three well-timed fours off Giles, and Taibu took his cue to become more aggressive, twice pulling Alex Wharf for sixes over square leg, but then Taibu swept hard at Giles, lost his balance and fell into his stumps to be out for a hard-fought 40 (106 for 6).
Chigumbura was determined to go down fighting, pulling Wharf for another six, but with Zimbabwe struggling, Vaughan went for the kill. Harmison and Gough were brought back, and Harmison soon had his third wicket as Panyangara continued his nightmare match, dragging the ball back into his stumps after scoring just a single (120 for 7).
Flintoff took England to the brink of victory, as Prosper Utseya fell attempting an uncontrolled hook, and then Marcus Trescothick leapt into the air at first slip to catch Douglas Hondo one-handed for a duck (142 for 9). Giles wrapped up proceedings when Edward Rainsford was caught behind for 4.
This match will no doubt have taught Zimbabwe's bowlers some important lessons, but apart from Sibanda, Taibu and Chigumbura, none of their batsmen stuck around long enough to gain much in the way of experience. However, those three did show that there is still some talent within Zimbabwe's ranks, and that will provide a ray of hope for their future in international cricket.