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At Harare, October 14, 15, 16, 17. Australia won by ten wickets. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debut:
T. R. Gripper.
Seven years had passed since Zimbabwe's elevation to Test status but their long overdue first Test against Australia never looked like becoming a David and Goliath story. In the end, Australia required only five runs for a remarkably easy victory, and they managed those within an over with more than a day to spare.
After their disappointing tour of Sri Lanka, the Australians ruthlessly set about restoring cricket's pecking order, beginning with an unsettling display of fast bowling. Zimbabwe's captain, Campbell, was left to rue his decision to bat first on a pitch that Steve Waugh said he would have bowled on had he won the toss. Zimbabwe had tumbled to 37 for four in the 19th over before Johnson and the dour Andy Flower, who occupied more than two and a half hours scoring 28, added 70 for the fifth wicket. Johnson, top scorer with a spirited 75, clubbed a four and a six off successive balls from Warne to rekindle memories of his World Cup century against Australia, when he hit Warne for four fours in an over. But these were fleeting high points: Zimbabwe were dismissed for 194 on the first evening.
In circumstances that might have been designed for him, Mark Waugh took the opportunity to revive his flagging career as Australia took control next day. Arriving in the second over of the morning, with his side an embarrassing seven for two, he ran up his best score in 14 Test innings - 90 in three and a half hours, with 13 fours. When he passed 78, Waugh overtook Neil Harvey's 6,149 Test runs to become Australia's seventh highest run-scorer.
But it was his brother who ensured that only one team could win. By the time Steve Waugh had finished with Zimbabwe's bowlers on the third day, Australia had amassed a devastatingly unspectacular 422, a first-innings lead of 228, and Waugh, unbeaten on 151, had joined the exclusive 20-Test-century club as the 17th member, three days after the 16th, Sachin Tendulkar. He batted for seven hours and 14 minutes, and faced 352 balls for 18 fours. Olonga dropped Waugh on the second day, when he was only 39, and the usually reliable Grant Flower spilled a straightforward chance at point a day later, when he was 94. On both occasions the unlucky bowler was Streak, who in spite of these misfortunes snared five for 93.
Fleming also had two lives as he helped his captain add 114 in 134 minutes for the eighth wicket. A tailender with a good eye, using much the same technique for cricket and golf, he reached his second fifty in 13 Tests in just 55 balls, with ten boundaries, before deciding to play like a batsman. He then used up another 39 balls scoring 15, without another four.
Zimbabwe seemed capable of better things at their second attempt, when they ground their way to 200 for two. But they could not sustain the fight, and lost their last eight in a spectacular collapse for 32 runs in 25 overs. McGrath and Miller bowled economically for three wickets each, while Warne cleaned up the tail and finally claimed Goodwin, caught at cover off a wide long-hop, in a spell of three for nought in 13 balls. Goodwin fell nine short of his century after five and a half hours. The match would prove to be the last of Healy's 119 Tests for Australia.
Man of the Match: S. R. Waugh.
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