Australia hammer Zimbabwe in tri-series opener
Some brutal hitting by Australia's batsmen powered them to 350 for 6 and the bowlers followed up to dismiss Zimbabwe for 152 in 39.3 overs to open the ODI triangular series with a huge win. "To play like that at the start of the tournament, we're all very happy," Australia bowler Mitchell Johnson said.
Glenn Maxwell smashed 93 from just 46 balls with nine fours and five sixes for Australia. Mitchell Marsh thumped 89 off 83 balls with seven fours and four sixes. They blitzed Zimbabwe's bowlers in a damaging fourth-wicket stand of 109 from 54 deliveries.
Hamilton Masakadza made 70 in Zimbabwe's chase but had no support as the home team fell to its heaviest defeat to the Aussies — 50 runs heavier than the previous record loss in Hobart in 2004. "Outplayed. Simple as that," Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura said. "Hopefully things will change in the next game."
Legspinner Steve Smith took 3 for 16 for Australia and Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon had two wickets each to back up the blistering performance from the batsmen. Top-ranked Australia was straight back on form in their first 50-over game since January. They face No. 3-ranked South Africa in the second game of the triangular series on Wednesday.
After Australia was put in to bat, Aaron Finch made 67 in a 98-run opening partnership with Brad Haddin (46) and Australia cashed in on a slow pitch against Zimbabwe's ineffective bowling attack. Australia was missing captain Michael Clarke to a hamstring injury and left out in-form batsman Phil Hughes, but still made a ground-record total, beating Zimbabwe's 340 for 2 against Namibia in 2003.
Maxwell played a series of brilliantly inventive shots, including a switch-hit for six off spinner Sean Williams. His half-century came up off just 28 balls. Marsh accelerated rapidly at the end of his innings and both looked certain to make centuries before they both holed out going for another massive hit. Marsh was caught down at long-on and Maxwell sent a towering shot high into the air that was caught superbly by Tino Mawoyo near the boundary.
With Maxwell and Marsh rampant, Australia plundered 147 off the last 10 overs as it rained boundaries at the start of the two-week tournament. Johnson added late impetus with his 20 from 10 balls, including a straight six that smashed into the window of a television commentary box and sent the commentators ducking for cover.
"I was very happy with that shot so I'm not going to apologize," Johnson joked. "But hopefully I didn't hurt anyone."
Tendai Chatara's 2 for 77 was the best return for Zimbabwe's battered bowlers. Masakadza hit six fours and a six in his half-century but had no support from Zimbabwe's other batsmen. His knock and a 63-run partnership with Sikandar Raza were the only high points of the innings.
Brief scores: Australia 350 for 6 (Maxwell 92, Marsh 89) beat Zimbabwe 152 in 39.3 overs (Masakadza 70) by 198 runs.