Pic: Twitter / ICC
Townsville: Cameron Green claimed his maiden five-wicket haul before David Warner and Steve Smith made light work of the run chase to set up a five-wicket victory for Australia over Zimbabwe in the first ond-day match of a three-match series, the African nation's first one-day international series in the country since 2004.
After Zimbabwe were sent in by Australian skipper Aaron Finch on Sunday, Green, took 5-33 as the tourists lost its last six wickets for 15 runs and was bowled out for 200 in the tropical north Queensland city of Townsville.
Australia then made light work of the run chase, as Warner scored 57 off 66 balls and Steve Smith played the anchor role of the innings to make an unbeaten 48 off 80 balls to set up the victory. Glenn Maxwell finished the match with consecutive sixes off Richard Ngarava in the 34th over.
Green, who had only one ODI wicket prior to Sunday's match, removed Sikander Raza and stand-in skipper Regis Chakabva cheaply and then returned to clean up the tail as Zimbabwe's hopes of posting a defendable total fell away in the final overs.
”(We) just had a really clear gameplan, got a bit lucky at the end there, was just the right place at the right time trying to bowl back of a length on a wicket that was kind of going up and down," Green said. "I was luckily the one who got the rewards, but I think the rest of the team bowled really well and basically gave me the opportunity to be in that position.”
Wessly Madhevere scored a career-high 72 runs and opener Tadiwanashe Marumani added 45 as Zimbabwe started watchfully against Australia's bowlers.
But, when Adam Zampa got Madhevere caught and bowled and Chakabva was caught by Starc following a Green delivery, Zimbabwe’s tail quickly collapsed chasing quick runs.
Australia lost Finch for 15 in the eighth over, before Warner and Smith combined for 65-run stand to have Australia's chase looking comfortable.
Alex Carey, Mitch Marsh and Marcus Stoinis all fell cheaply to spinner Ryan Burl (3-60) to stall the hosts' progress but Maxwell blasted 32 off nine deliveries to seal the victory for Australia in their first of 17 ODIs before next year’s World Cup in India..
Zimbabwe is making its first appearance for a one-day international series in the country since 2004 with the teams set to play three ODIs in seven days at the 10,000-seat Riverway Stadium.
The second game of the three-match series is on Wednesday also at Townsville.
The match also held tributes for local hero and former Australia test player Andrew Symonds who died in an auto-accident in May near Townsville.
Fans, players, family and friends stood in silence before the match before further tributes to the charismatic allrounder were held at the innings break.