Zimbabwe XI v Australia A, Harare, 3rd day

Zimbabwe fight back but Australia A on top

The Report by Liam Brickhill

July 23, 2011

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Zimbabwe XI 300 (Taylor 85, Siddle 4-45) and 49 for 3 (Taylor 32*, Starc 2-8) v Australia A 498 (Finch 122, Warner 211, Price 4-116)

Chris Mpofu picked up two wickets in an over against Australia A, Zimbabwe XI v Australia A, Tour Match, Harare, July 23 2011
Chris Mpofu picked up two wickets in an over as Zimbabwe XI fought back on the third day in Harare © Zimbabwe Cricket
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Zimbabwe XI fought back gamely for most of the third day after Australia A's openers had put on a 289-run stand, Ray Price leading the way with four wickets as the visitors were restricted to a lead of 198. The Zimbabwean batsmen were soon under real pressure, however, as Mitchell Starc's early strikes left them precariously placed at 49 for 3.

The second day had belonged almost entirely to Australia but Zimbabwe made a good start on the third morning, taking just three overs to break a massive opening stand between Aaron Finch and David Warner. Price provided the breakthrough, bowling Finch for 122, and in the very next over Chris Mpofu had Usman Khawaja caught behind for a golden duck as Australia slipped to 290 for 2.

Callum Ferguson's fluent 48 helped Warner to stem the tide, the latter bringing up a 330-ball double hundred - his first in first-class cricket - in the course of their 78-run stand for the third wicket. Once Ferguson was removed, caught behind off Elton Chigumbura, there was another flurry of wickets and Price had Tim Paine caught by Craig Ervine for his second scalp.

Zimbabwe immediately took the new ball, with dramatic results. Mitchell Marsh had his stumps re-arranged by Mpofu, who trapped Warner in front of his stumps for 211 four balls later. Vitori got past both Luke Butterworth and Trent Copeland in the space of an over, and Australia had lost four wickets for one run in 10 balls.

Australia A were 437 for 9 when Price bowled Peter Siddle for his third wicket, but then came a determined fightback by Jason Krejza and Starc, who clung on to add 61 for the tenth wicket to frustrate the Zimbabweans. Krejza brought up a 72-ball fifty and was prised out by Price soon after, Australia A reaching 498 in the 138th over.

The momentum swung firmly back Australia's way in Starc's opening spell as he removed both Vusi Sibanda and Tino Mawoyo within the first six overs. Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor began to re-build the innings but Masakadza was removed by Copeland minutes before the close, and Zimbabwe's fortunes may well now hinge on Taylor, unbeaten on 32, as they look to save the game on the final day.

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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