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The Report by Firdose Moonda
August 31, 2014
Zimbabwe 211 for 7 (Chigumbura 52*, Lyon 4-44) beat Australia 209 for 9 (Clarke 68*) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Moonda: A piece of history for Zimbabwe
In the 30th ODI meeting between these sides, Zimbabwe did what they had not for 31 years and beat Australia. The captain Elton Chigumbura engineered the chase that changed 11,406 days of history, after his spinners had applied a stranglehold that kept Australia to their lowest total against Zimbabwe, and achieved only their second win against these opponents.
Chigumbura's opposite number, Michael Clarke, battled a hamstring niggle that ruled him out of the rest of the tri-series, and held his side together on a spin-friendly surface on which none of the other Australian batsmen settled. But Zimbabwe's challenge was always going to be chasing a total over 200 - they were dismissed for less in their last four ODIs - and when Nathan Lyon picked up career-best figures and they were reduced to 156 for 7, another collapse seemed likely. A 55-run stand between Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya for the eighth wicket ensured Zimbabwe did not fold and sent Harare Sports Club into frenzied celebration.
The dancing in the stands had begun in the morning when Zimbabwe reduced Australia to 39 for 3. John Nyumbu bowled Aaron Finch, Prosper Utseya had Phillip Hughes caught at slip, and Sean Williams bowled George Bailey to give Zimbabwe early control.
Clarke was still there but needed a partner to rebuild and could not find one in Glenn Maxwell, despite him being the recipient of the first of five let-offs from Zimbabwe. Maxwell was on 13 when he edged Malcolm Waller as he tried to drive but Brendan Taylor could not hold on. Fortunately for Zimbabwe, Waller bowled him with his next delivery to ensure no harm was done from that missed chance.
They could not say the same about all the others. Mitchell Marsh had not scored when he flicked Nyumbu to short leg but Tino Mawoyo put down the chance. Marsh added 40 runs with Clarke, although he only contributed 15. Brad Haddin should have been out on 5 but Waller dropped a return catch from a top-edge, on 14 when Chatara fluffed a chance in his follow-through, and on 17 when Chatara put down an easier opportunity at short fine leg.
Amid all of that, Clarke brought up his 50 off 80 balls, but left the field on 68 in the 43rd over because of hamstring trouble. That gave Zimbabwe the opening they wanted and they stormed through. Utseya had James Faulkner caught at slip off the first ball he faced and Williams bowled Mitchell Starc through the gate in the next over to leave Australia 150 for 7.
Only Cutting's cameo at No. 10, Haddin's 49, and Chigumbura using seamers at the end instead of spinners took Australia over 200, but this time it was not enough, especially because their attack was without Mitchell Johnson, who was rested.
Zimbabwe had not made such a total in their last four ODIs but that changed because they got a better start today. Tino Mawoyo and Sikandar Raza delivered the best opening partnership of the last eight matches through patience and application.
They waited until the third over before taking their first run and Raza reined in his usual aggressive instincts as much as he could. He could not resist if anything was too short or too full but he got away with it until Australia introduced spin in the 12th over. Lyon's second legitimate delivery turned sharply from outside off into Raza, who was surprised by extra bounce as he tried to cut and handed first slip a catch. In his next over Lyon got rid of Mawoyo too.
Those wickets brought Zimbabwe's most experienced batting pair, Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor, together. Taylor swept with confidence and the pair negotiated flight and turn from both Lyon and Maxwell. They were separated only when Clarke, who returned to lead in the 19th over, brought Starc back. He fired one in full and fast to cut Masakadza in half and end the third-wicket stand on 56.
Seven deliveries later, Taylor went forward to a loopy ball from Lyon that snuck between bat and pad to hit off-stump, but it was only when Sean Williams was caught at slip to give Lyon career-best figures of 4 for 44 that Zimbabwe were in danger of unraveling. They teetered on 102 for 5 and Lyon still had 26 balls to bowl.
Chigumbura eased concerns with two fours off Lyon to suggest Zimbabwe were far from done. Waller helped to see Lyon off, though it meant defending rather than looking for runs. His 11 came off 39 balls and when he handed Maxwell a return catch, Chigumbura was left with the tail.
Donald Tiripano was dismissed for 3 but Prosper Utseya was not anywhere. He sliced Starc through point for his first runs and showed he was willing to move the score along to take pressure off his captain.
Zimbabwe entered the last ten overs needing 44 to win and Chigumbura and Utseya hunted them down in calculated fashion. Chigumbura's finishing skills shone through when he guided Marsh to third man, but he largely concentrated on rotating strike and letting Utseya take risks. With the field spread, the pair did not have to take too many, apart from when Utseya cleared mid-on off a Faulkner length ball.
Chigunbura's 50 came off 61 balls with a punch through point and took Zimbabwe within 15 runs of victory. Even as they got closer, Chigumbura did not get over-ambitious and maintained a level head. Utseya struck the winning blow - a smoke over midwicket - with two overs to spare and gave Zimbabwe an outside chance of making the tri-series final.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Australia and South Africa at the MCG