Johnson leads Aus to crushing win
Mitchell Johnson nabbed four wickets as Australia thrashed Zimbabwe by 91-runs in their World Cup Group A match at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedebad in India on Monday.
Zimbabwe had done well to restrict Australia to 262 for six, despite 79 from Shane Watson.
But any hopes the team from Africa had of causing an upset were swiftly dashed when left-arm quick Johnson picked up four for 19 off 9.2 overs as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 171 with 22 balls of their innings remaining.
The win was Australia’s 24th consecutive World Cup victory while Australia captain Ricky Ponting set an individual record by appearing in his 40th World Cup match.
Zimbabwe’s run-chase had begun reasonably well as they moved to 40 for one but they slumped to 44 for four in the space of two overs with Johnson picking up two of the wickets to fall.
Johnson had Tatenda Taibu (7) caught at first slip before paceman Shaun Tait bowled Brenden Taylor (16).
Johnson then removed Craig Ervine courtesy of an Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) call after umpire Asoka de Silva had initially given Ervine not out.
Wickets fell at regular intervals before Graeme Cremer and Prosper Utseya (24) held up the Australian’s charge to victory with an eighth-wicket stand of 49 before Utseya popped a delivery from off-spinner David Hussey to Ponting at midwicket.
Cremer batted well to reach 37, his highest one-day international score, before he was well caught by a diving keeper Brad Haddin off a Johnson delivery before the bowler ended the innings when he had Chris Mpofu (2) caught behind.
Tait finished with figures of two for 34 while off-spinner Jason Krejza picked up two for 28.
HALF-CENTURIES FOR WATSON, CLARKE
Watson and Michael Clarke had earlier overcome an impressive bowling performance from Zimbabwe with both men bringing up half-centuries.
Opening bat Watson faced 92 deliveries in scoring his runs while Clarke was a touch more aggressive as he ended not out on 58 off 55 balls.
The Australian batsmen found scoring tough against the plethora of spinners utilised by Zimbabwe with off-spinner Utseya ending with figures of one for 43 off 10 overs, after having had figures of 5-2-6-1.
Leg-spinner Cremer picked up one for 41 off his 10-over allocation while left-arm spinner Ray Price, who opened the bowling, finished with one for 43 off 10.
Seamer Mpofu was the most successful bowler with figures of two for 58 off nine overs.
UDRS OVERTURNS TWO DECISIONS
Australia won the toss and elected to bat but the opening pair of Watson and Haddin (29) took their time as their partnership of 61 used up 18.5 overs.
Haddin faced 66 deliveries before he was trapped leg-before by Utseya, although Zimbabwe had to make use of the UDRS after umpire De Silva had initially given Haddin not out.
Replays showed that the ball would have hit middle stump if not for Haddin’s leg getting in the way.
Watson was next to depart, after scoring eight fours and a six, and once again UDRS proved be the batsman’s undoing after umpire Richard Kettleborough gave Watson not out after being struck on his front pad by leg-spinner Cremer.
The on-field decision was overturned when replays showed the ball would have hit middle and off stump.
Pointing (28) fell to a wonderful piece of fielding when he was run out at the non-striker’s end, thanks to a direct hit from Mpofu fielding at deep square leg.
Cameron White (22), bowled by Mpofu, and Hussey (14), bowled by Price, failed to build on decent starts but Clarke provided the innings with some late impetus as he brought up his 46th one-day international fifty off 50 balls.
Australia – Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, David Hussey, Cameron White, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Jason Krejza, Shaun Tait.
Zimbabwe - Brendan Taylor, Charles Coventry, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura (capt), Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price.