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Zimbabwe humble Australia
12 Sep 2007
By: Daniel Rosam

Newlands, Cape Town. A venue many Australian and Zimbabweans have fond memories of. Australia arrived today to a rather wet Newlands. Cape Town has had a rather wet winter as records go and today seemed like no different. As this was an evening match up the weather would take a different role under lights with a swinging ball.

The toss, which many thought would be quite crucial, wasn't so. Ponting won it and chose to bat, but by the look on his face he really wasn't quite sure. The pitch looked damp, and damp pitches tend to be low and slow. Utseya summed it up by saying "Its a good toss too lose, although we would have bowled because we weren't sure what a good par score was". So there we have it, Australia to bat and Zimbabwe to unleash what they have in the bowling department.

Australia managed to start off very slowly, losing the normally rigid Matthew Hayden for 4, followed by Gilchrist and Ponting. Australia now were reeling on 19-3 after four
Zimbabwe wicket-keeper Brendan Taylor was heroic with the gloves. Aiding a stumping, an excellent catch and a run out to add the Australia's woes. Symonds managed to slip at the crease and Taylor's excellent timing with the stumping allowed Zimbabwe to reduce Australia to 5-85. At this point Australia knew they couldn't really lose any more wickets, and Zimbabwe just had to keep to their length bowling. Utseya brought himself on and kept the scoring rate down. It was only Brad Hodge who was able to hit two massive sixes that gave some sort of respectability to the Aussie scorecard.

Brent was the Zimbabwe hero with the ball. His line and length were impeccable and the Aussies had no answer to it. He managed to end the game with figures of 4-0-19-2. What makes it even more remarkable was that it was against the mighty Australians.

However Hodge's last blast with the bat in the final few over's gave Australia a respectable total looking at the state of the pitch of 138-9.

Zimbabwe, having bowled the way they did would back themselves to get it. What the difference now was Australia had the faster bowlers to allow the ball to come on to the bat more. This is what Zimbabwe didn't give Australia and they missed a trick by not picking their premiere spinner Brad Hogg.

Vusimusi Sibanda came out of the blocks like a rocket. He managed to take eight off the first over and that gave Zimbabwe the momentum they were after. Right from the go it looked like Brendan Taylor's role was to stay in and rotate the strike while his partners rallied around him. Sibanda managed a quick fire 23 which really set the tone Zimbabwe had to follow. Chamu Chibhabha came out in the same vein, hitting Bracken down the pitch twice before skying an attempted pull to Gilchrist behind the stumps. Taylor though was still around and Zimbabwe were ahead of Australia at this point, 2-54 off seven.

Rain was beginning to fall and Ponting knew exactly what he needed from his bowlers. As comical as it might sound, he had some paper in his pocket with Duckworth Lewis information on it. He knew exactly what has needed, Zimbabwe however didn't. At 74-4 after a few cheap wickets were lost to unorthodox shots the players were taken off for rain. Australia were ahead now, Zimbabwe needed to be on 81-1 if they were going to win as things stood. The rain had to ease otherwise Australia would have scraped home.

The resumption of play happened 30 minutes later. Bizarrely no overs had been lost so we were back to square one. Zimbabwe required 65 runs off 49 balls with 6 wickets in hand. Something very doable, but against Australia your never counting your chickens. Taylor was still there, being supported well by Hamilton Masakadza. If one of them could stay for the duration then Zimbabwe surely could secure the victory.

The outfield was horribly soggy, and this played into Zimbabwe's hands nicely. Taylor immediately looked to get the ball rolling and get it wet. A wet ball is a bowlers nightmare and it seemed Hodge, the Aussie part time spinner was having a hard time gripping it and spooned two long hops which Taylor smashed for six. This changed the course of the game completely. Pressure off the batters kept rotating the strike and more importantly frustrated the Aussie bowlers.

The wicket of Masakadza put a slight holt to proceedings, Zimbabwe now requiring 16 from 9 but certainly still winnable. Taylor took to the Aussie bowlers, who of course were trying to get the ball full. He was able to scramble 12 runs from the final over to give Zimbabwe a historic victory for his team, the supporters and his nation.

Zimbabwe may well rejoice this occasion, its not often any team beats an Australian side, let alone Zimbabwe who sit 11th in the ODI rankings.

Australia 138-9 (20 overs)
Brad Hodge 35, Andrew Symonds 33
Elton Chigumbura 3-20, Gary Brent 2-19

Zimbabwe 139-5 (19.5 overs)
Brendan Taylor 60, Hamilton Masakadza 27
Stuart Clark 2-22

Zimbabwe won by 5 wickets
Cricket Web player of the match: Brendan Taylor

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