By Wessly Madhevere
WESSLY Madhevere’s half century was in vain as Zimbabwe lost the first One Day International to Australia by five wickets at Riverway Stadium in Townsville, Queensland, Australia this Sunday.
Put in to bat first, the Chevrons started cautiously as they tried to negate the swing and pace of the Australian attackers.
The openers got through the first 10 overs without losing a wicket, seeing off the first spell of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood relatively comfortably.
But, in the 11th over all-rounder Mitchell Marsh made the breakthrough when he dismissed Innocent Kaia for 17, leaving Zimbabwe 42 for 1.
The visitors pushed on to 87 before impressive opener Tadiwanashe Marumani who was dismissed for 45 tried to charge leg-spinner Adam Zampa, only to miss the ball with a big heave and lose his middle stump.
Wessly Madhevere batting at three and Tony Munyonga then produced a boundary apiece against Zampa in the 25th over, only for Smith to pull off a spectacular running catch from mid-off to remove Munyonga as he aimed down the ground again.
The in-form Raza, who has enjoyed a stunning run against Bangladesh and India in recent weeks, was tied down by Australia’s quicks before falling to a short ball from Cameron Green which he top-edged to fine leg removing a major threat with nearly 20 overs to go.
Adam Zampa took his third wicket with the final ball of his spell when Madhevere chipped a return catch back to him for his highest ODI score of 72, leaving the visitors 5-185.
The tail had no answer to the pace of the towering Green as Zimbabwe lost their last six wickets for 15 runs to be all out in the 48th over.
A target of 201 was always unlikely to cause too many concerns, and it was duly knocked off with more than 16 overs to spare amid a flurry of boundaries by Glenn Maxwell.
David Warner lived a charmed life in making a half-century, but Steven Smith played a controlled innings to ensure the loss of three wickets to Ryan Burl from some casual stroke play did not become a problem.
The two teams meet again at the same venue on Wednesday, for the second ODI.