344-7 (50 ovs)
196-6 (50 ovs)
Hobart: Adam Gilchrist hit a swashbuckling 172 to propel Australia to an emphatic 148-run victory over a beleaguered Zimbabwe in the triangular one-day series match here on Friday.
After watching the world champions pile up a mammoth 344 for seven, Zimbabwe suffered yet another top-order batting collapse to reach 196 for six for their third successive defeat.
Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak and young wicketkeeper-batsman Tatenda Taibu once again played a crucial role in restoring some pride for the Africans with a 102-run sixth wicket partnership. Streak, who captured three for 50 during the Australian innings, hit an unbeaten 64 while Taibu made 44 as the visitors had the consolation of not being bowled out.
Australia strengthened their position at the top of the points table with three wins from as many matches.
Australia gained maximum six points from the match to increase their tally to 17, 10 points above second-placed India, while Streak’s men languish at the bottom without a point.
The hosts take on India in their next match in Brisbane on Sunday. Gilchrist’s tenth one-day century came off just 126 balls with 13 fours and three sixes as Australia made the most of a perfect batting track at the Bellerive Oval. It was Australia’s highest score against Zimbabwe and the highest at the venue.
The left-handed Gilchrist also passed the personal milestone of 6,000 runs in the shorter version of the game when he reached 150 in his innings.
Gilchrist’s 172 was the second highest one-day score by an Australian after Mark Waugh’s 173 against the West Indies at the MCG in 2000-01. The Australian vice-captain shared a record 140-run opening stand with Matthew Hayden who dominated the first wicket partnership with a 75-ball 63 that contained five fours.
Gilchrist and Hayden began unconvincingly after captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat. Both were intent on attacking the Zimbabwe bowlers from the outset.
The hundred came in the 16th over with the batsmen flourishing through some bad bowling and fielding. Gilchrist was dropped on 36 by Douglas Hondo and the Zimbabweans paid dearly for the error.
The aggressive lefthander exploded after the departure of Hayden, who fell mistiming an on-drive off Heath Streak for a simple catch to Vusi Sibanda at mid on. Gilchrist’s century surprisingly had only six fours and a six but it come off only 89 balls. After crossing the three-figure mark, however, the southpaw opened his shoulders to play some exhilarating shots.
In between, Ponting (37) survived a stumping chance off Raymond Price but failed to capitalise on it as he lifted Grant Flower straight to Matsikenyeri at long off. The momentum, however, was maintained by the free-wheeling Gilchrist. Australia’s 200 came in the 34th over and the next hundred in another 61 balls.
But the flow slowed down drastically after the dismissal of the opening batsman, bowled by Ervine (two for 65) while going for the slog.
Andrew Symonds (0) was run out off the first ball he faced, and Streak caught by Michael Bevan (7) to give Ervine his second wicket. Streak then removed Micheal Clarke (0) and Andy Bichel (0) in three balls to puncture the fast rolling Australian wheel.
Damien Martyn (47 n.o.) kept the scoreboard ticking at the other end but the flurry of wickets stopped Australia from reaching the 350-mark. The Zimbabwe chase was never on after they were reduced to 52 for four in the 19th over.
Brett Lee struck in the fifth over to remove Vusi Sibanda caught behind. Mark Vermeulen and Dion Ebrahim, replacing the injured Stuart Carlisle, helped Gilchrist complete a satisfying day in office with three catches.
After the fall of Ervine, Streak raised 41 runs with Flower for the fifth wicket but any hopes the skipper might have nurtured of attacking the Aussie total was nipped in the bud when Flower was run out for 40. In the end, Taibu and Streak were left to do some damage control exercise.