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Zimbabwe fall short again in 13-run loss to Aussies

Grant Flower's fighting knock of 94 runs failed to save Zimbabwe from crashing to another defeat.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2004 19:50 IST
Agencies

Zimbabwe flattered to deceive once again as they suffered a narrow 13-run defeat to Australia in the triangular one-day series cricket match on Monday.

After restricting the world champions to an achievable 279 for seven on a batsman-friendly Adelaide pitch, Zimbabwe put in a brave fight but ran out of steam in the end to be stopped at 266 for eight.

A solid 94 by opening batsman Grant Flower laid the platform for the tourists but a middle order collapse on the face of some tidy bowling by the Australians undermined his efforts.

Sean Ervine (33) and skipper Heath Streak (28) sustained the hopes with a 69-run fourth wicket partnership before Andy Blignaut (31 no) provided a late acceleration to push the Zimbabwe score close to Australian total.

The left-handed Blignaut added 37 runs from 25 balls for the unfinished ninth wicket with Raymond Price but the Africans had suffered some serious damage in the middle which proved too much to repair in the end.

The defeat left Zimbabwe without a win with one match to go against India, the third team in the series.

India and Australia have already qualified for the best of three finals.

Zimbabwe earned one point from the match to improve their tally to three while the Australians extended theirs to 28 at the top of the table. India have 23 points from six matches so far.

Earlier, Streak scalped two wickets in the last over to check the high flying Australians after home captain Ricky Ponting (63) had provided them with bright start hitting a sparkling half century.

Electing to bat, the hosts lost Damien Martyn for just nine. Promoted up the order to get some valuable time at the crease, Martyn cut a rising Streak delivery straight to Dion Ebrahim at point to continue his run of poor form.

Matthew Hayden (20) was out in similar fashion, slashing Blignaut uppishly for a straight forward catch at point, Ebrahim being the fielder again.

Ponting then exploited the 15-over field restriction with some extravagant off-drives. He raced to his 50 in just 47 balls before being run out to a brilliant pick and throw by Blignaut at midwicket.

Micheal Bevan rediscovered his form to make the top score of 75 and starred in a 77-run partnership with Michael Clarke (36) for the fourth wicket.

Clarke also had another fruitful association of 41 runs for the sixth wicket with Andrew Symonds (34) which threatened to take the Zimbabwe bowling apart.

A minor late order collapse, however, denied them a fabulous finish.

Clarke and Bevan were milking the Zimbabwe bowling when the former became the second run out victim.

Big Symonds' big shots never really materialised and he was the second of Streak's two wickets in the final over that poured cold water on Australian hopes of a 300 plus total.

Streak once again was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with three for 45, while left-arm spinners Raymond Price (0-40) and Grant Flower (0-45) also played a role in keeping the Australians in check.

Zimbabwe paid the penalty for experimenting too much with their batting order.

Young wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu opened the innings but was back in the pavilion by the tenth over, bowled by Brad Williams for nine, with only 29 on the board.

Brett Lee sent back Travis Friend before Williams (2-38) removed Stuart Carlisle to leave them struggling at 90 for three by the 23rd over.

Ervine and Flower then had the double duty of rebuilding the innings as well as set the tone for the chase.

Ervine holed out to Lee while trying to take on wrist spinner Brad Hogg and when Flower followed him 10 runs later, caught behind off Jason Gillespie, the Africans' were derailed.

Streak did his bit in keeping the scoreboard moving with the later order but not until Blignaut began to use the long handle did the runs flow.

Symonds strangled the Zimbabweans with his fastish off-spinners (2-47) while the left-armer Hogg (1-40) continuously bamboozled the batsmen with his variation.

SCORECARD

First Published: Jan 26, 2004 09:09 IST