Monday, February 21, 2011

WC2011 Australia vs. Zimbabwe

Australia 262 for 6 (Watson 79, Clarke 58*, Mpofu 2-58) beat Zimbabwe 171 (Cremer 37, Johnson 4-19, Tait 2-34) by 91 runs

A bouncer from Australia's Shaun Tait hits the helmet of Zimbabwe's Chris Mpofu during their opening game of cricket's World Cup at Ahmadabad, India. Photograph: Saurabh Das/AP

Australia began their World Cup campaign on a winning note, wrapping up an easy 91-run win over a Zimbabwean outfit that had no answer to the pace battery of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson, who finished as the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 19.

Winning the toss, Ponting chose to bat first. Australia were never really troubled by Zimbabwe at any stage of the match, if anything it was the umpires that were having trouble with LBW decisions as Australia was with the turning decks, having 2 not-outs reversed for the wickets of Haddin & Ponting. Australia never got into gear and in many ways this had the feel of a friendly. Comparing this innings to that of Sri Lanka & India in the opening matches, Australia seemed to coast to its required score nothing large, nothing great yet Watson & Clarke notched fifty’s and Ponting got his eye in. That said Zimbabwe are a better opposition than Canada, and will prove a good test for most nations outside of the top 4.

Once the target was set Australia was on the offensive early with speed Trio Lee, Tait and Johnson cleaning up with straight fast balls to middle stump. The Zimbabwe players not having enough ability to defend or attack such bowling, Australia pursued with this until the match was out of reach then choosing to give Hussey a roll of the arm to avoid over using Tait [coming back to full fitness] Krezja picked up a couple of late wickets to make his tally look useful.

Australia was put under pressure early on in this match, Zimbabwe proved to be a good test, and maybe a better starting opponent to get Australia switched on for New Zealand. Haddin still is a question mark at the top of the order, but any chances of a late change to Callum Ferguson won’t be coming soon. And the slow attacking in the power play is still an issue for a side that should score plenty with the field in.

With all these questions Australia is still yet to lose a World Cup match under Ponting, and they are well placed for New Zealand on Friday. England has the Netherlands tomorrow morning and with a changed opening partnership you can be sure all eyes will be on KP. I think this is an inspired move by England and should in theory prove to be a success moving Prior down the order.

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