Australia “A” hardly broke a sweat as they trounced the Zimbabwe XI by four wickets with a massive 58 balls to spare in the fourth match of the Coca-Cola Challenge triangular cricket series at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Sunday’s loss, which was Zimbabwe XI’s third in three matches all but dampened any hopes the home side had of making it into the final, while with the win Australia “A” booked their place in Friday’s final.
Zimbabwe XI who are still to get a point in this tri-series will now hope the Aussies beat the South Africans convincingly on Tuesday while they also do the same against their northern neighbours on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe XI won the toss and skipper Brendan Taylor who would go out for just one run from five deliveries elected to bat first but the batting order just never turned up as they were bowled out for a measly 159 in 48,2 overs.
Tall left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets for 39 runs in nine overs while off-spinner Nathan Lyon was equally impressive with three wickets for 38 runs in his 10 overs.
In reply, Australia-top order batsman Callum Ferguson led his team’s charge to victory with a fluent unbeaten 57 runs off 69 balls and together with Aaron Finch who chipped in with 47 runs, the duo laid a firm base for the final assault with a 45-run second wicket partnership stand.
Even a wicket and a run-out in one over by Utseya Prosper Utseya in the 15th over to leave the Aussies on 58 for two after eight overs, did not derail their charge as they were way over the required run rate by then.
Utseya was the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe XI after taking three wickets for just 31 runs in 10 overs while Ray Price and Keegan Meth who leaked 46 runs in seven overs chipped in with a wicket apiece.
The Aussies, who made two changes to their squad with Luke Butterworth and Mitchell Marsh making way for Trent Copeland and Mathew Wade never looked like they would relinquish their strong position after bowling out the home side for a poor total.
As has become the norm these days, Zimbabwe XI was just pathetic with wicketkeeper/batsman Regis Chakabva top scoring with 45 runs although that took a massive 104 deliveries.
Top-order batsman Vusimuzi Sibanda again had a good start with 31 runs but again could not convert his score into a big total.
The rest of the batsmen simply capitulated without offering much resistance as they could not manage to get past 15 runs and construct any partnerships against some disciplined bowling by the Aussies.