A maiden five-wicket haul by seamer Cameron Green on Sunday set Australia up for a five-wicket victory in the first one-day international against Zimbabwe in Townsville, which is hosting the first series between the sides Down Under since 2004.
Sent in to bat in blustery overcast conditions, the 13th-ranked tourists were bowled out in 47.3 overs for 200. That total never looked troubling for Australia’s experienced batting unit, which accelerated to 201-5 with 99 balls to spare.
Sloppy fielding allowed Zimbabwe’s fragile top-order to make a promising start, easing to 61-1 by the first drinks break with Innocent Kaia caught and bowled for 17 by Mitchell Marsh.
After Adam Zampa (3-57) spun two quick wickets, 21-year-old Wesley Madhevere (72) batted cautiously with skipper Regis Chakabva (31), sharing in a partnership of 63.
The lower order capitulated spectacularly though, swinging wildly against Green (5-33), whose entire haul came from catches in the deep while the final four wickets combined for 12 runs.
“I just got a bit lucky at the end there, I was just at the right place at the right time. Trying to bowl back of a length on a wicket that was kind of going up and down I didn’t really have to change what I was doing too much.” ” Green said.
A tribute to former Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds, who died in a car accident outside Townsville in May, preceded the hosts’ innings, which started emphatically with a boundary from the first ball.
David Warner and Steve Smith (48 not out) batted with freedom in pursuit of a low target after Aaron Finch departed for 15.
Warner survived a dropped catch on 36 off Sikandar Raza, and two balls later he walked after wicketkeeper Chakabva immediately reviewed for caught behind.
However, the review was deemed to show insufficient evidence to overturn the not-out decision, causing the opener to trudge back out to the middle. The off spinner soon had his man though, clean bowling Warner for 57.
Australia’s middle-order wobbled, conceding three wickets to Ryan Burl’s leg-breaks, but Glenn Maxwell bludgeoned 32 from nine balls to seal the game. The three-match series continues in Townsville on Wednesday.