HARARE: Glenn Maxwell hit a half-century for Australia as they chased down Zimbabwe’s 151 for nine with a ball to spare in a tightly-contested Twenty-20 match Friday.
Maxwell’s 56 — his first half century since February against England in Hobart — helped ease the pain for an Australian middle order who were made to graft after Zimbabwean all-rounder Solomon Mire had notched his second consecutive 50-plus score earlier in the day.
Zimbabwe had enjoyed early success, dismissing Australian openers Aaron Finch and Alex Carey inside the first five overs. Australia took just 35 runs from the Powerplay and it wasn’t until Maxwell began to find the middle of his bat that they started to bring the asking rate down.
He was particularly harsh on Zimbabwe’s spinners, collecting sixes off Malcolm Waller, Wellington Masakadza and debutant Brandon Mavuta to bring up a 34-ball 50 in the 17th over.
But he departed soon after, driving fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani into the hands of Elton Chigumbura at extra cover to spark a late fightback from the Zimbabweans.
They took three wickets in three overs after getting rid of Maxwell to take the game into the final over, but Marcus Stoinis lifted the penultimate delivery over square leg to seal the match.
That challenging total set by the Zimbabweans was thanks mainly to Mire, who helped his team recover from the dismissal of Cephas Zhuwao from the very first ball of the morning.
Together with PJ Moor he rebuilt the innings with a 64-run fourth wicket stand. Moor eventually fell for 30, chasing quick runs, but Mire brought up a 44-ball fifty in the 17th over.
Zimbabwe then lost four wickets in two overs on the charge at the death, with Andrew Tye once again starring with the ball, but reached a total which very nearly sparked an upset.
Australia’s win in this dead rubber provides a welcome confidence boost ahead of their clash with number one ranked Pakistan in Sunday’s final.—AFP