<
>

Australia cruise to 106-run win

Australia 290 for 7 (Clarke 82, Watson 81) beat Zimbabwe 184 for 7 (Williams 44) by 106 runs
Scorecard

Shane Watson and Michael Clarke helped Australia end their losing streak but their bowlers were less convincing in a 106-run warm-up victory over Zimbabwe at St Vincent. Clarke made 82 and Watson scored 81 as Australia posted 290 for 7 but the attack could not dismiss Zimbabwe, who pushed and prodded their way to 184 for 7.

Sean Williams and Stuart Matsikenyeri added 67 for the fourth wicket to frustrate Australia but the target was always too much for Zimbabwe. Australia used eight bowlers and their 14 overs of spin gave Zimbabwe their best chance to score.

Brad Hogg continued his luckless run with 0 for 36 from eight overs but it was the part-time offspin of Brad Hodge that removed Williams caught-and-bowled for 44. Australia's late call-up to the squad, Stuart Clark, claimed 2 for 33 from seven overs. Shaun Tait took the new ball and despite going wicketless, he rattled Vusi Sibanda with a blow to the head shortly before Sibanda fell to Mitchell Johnson.

Clarke, who was playing his first game since missing the New Zealand tour in February with a hip problem, scored at better than a run a ball but was caught on the long-off boundary trying for another big strike in the 48th over. With no Matthew Hayden (toe) or Adam Gilchrist (arrived late after the birth of his third child), Australia's makeshift openers, Watson and Brad Haddin, set the scene with a 91-run stand from 14.5 overs.

Haddin was dropped by Williams at point on 2 - one of three missed opportunities by Zimbabwe - and made 34 of his 47 in boundaries before Williams snapped up a second chance in the same position. Watson, who made a half-century as opener in Australia's last Chappell-Hadlee ODI, again impressed at the top of the order.

However, Ricky Ponting, who won the toss, was caught behind off Elton Chigumbura for 2 and Hodge (17) and Michael Hussey (15) failed to convert their starts. Zimbabwe's chase began poorly when Terry Duffin edged Nathan Bracken behind for 5 and Sibanda's departure in the tenth over left the score at 2 for 32.

Zimbabwe should fancy their chances in their second warm-up match on Thursday, against Bermuda, who were dismissed by England for 45. Australia face England on Friday before the tournament proper starts next week.