Australia won their three-game ODI streak against Zimbabwe in straight sets, earning an eight-wicket victory in the second game in Townsville on Wednesday.
After sending Zimbabwe to bat, Mitchell Starc ripped through the top order, then Adam Zampa and Cameron Green finished the job as Australia crushed the tourists for just 96.
In response, Australia lost two early wickets in David Warner and Aaron Finch to slip to 2-16.
That put Steve Smith and Alex Carey in the fold, who went unbeaten on 47 balls from 41 and 26 balls from 33, respectively, to see Australia home after just 88 balls.
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Previously, Starc and Zampa took three wickets each, while Green took two to build on his brilliant five-wicket performance in the series opener. Sean Williams scored Zimbabwe’s best goal with 29 points but had little support in a dismal 27.5 over-innings.
Australia won the draw and bowled first, with Starc (3-24) immediately confirming the decision.
First, left arm Innocent removed Kala with a searing inswinger that slammed into the snags. He followed up with another wicket three balls later, capturing Wessly Madhevere up front for a duck.
Starc then looped opener Tadiwanashe Marumani, who sliced a full ball off his pads to replace fielder Marnus Labuschagne for four. He is now just one wicket away from 200 ODI wickets.
Josh Hazlewood (1-16) and Ashton Agar (1-15) – called up to replace the injured Mitch Marsh – also ensured Zimbabwe faltered before introductions from Zampa (3-21) and Green (2-7) proved definitive for Zimbabwe.
“It was a good shot to be won by Australia. Zimbabwe never really looked comfortable. The sheer quality of Australian bowlers made it difficult for them,” said Mark Waugh, reporting on Fox Cricket.
Michael Hussey added: “I thought the Australian bowlers did even better from the first game. It was a little less wind so they had more control with the ball, they bowled a good line and distance, there was certainly enough movement in there… a good effort from the Aussies.
In response, neither opener Warner nor Finch had innings to remember.
Warner looked in a hurry and was caught at depth on 13 balls out of nine when Richard Ngarava picked up the wicket.
Ngarava doubled his tally when a hesitant Finch messed up his footwork and ran into a delivery he’d nicked to slip first.
Finch departed for just one run of six balls, giving him an ODI average of just 4.00 in his last four innings and 15.90 since early 2021.
Smith then looked good for the series after his second unbeaten 40-plus score, while Carey played a solid supporting role in his 26 unbeaten run.
Regarding Smith, Haddin said the right-hander sends a message to the selectors, which have shifted in order in recent years.
“He’s making a little statement,” Haddin said on Fox Cricket. “He wasn’t out in either game, they put him back in 3rd place and that’s the position he wants to beat.
“He wants to be the captain on this team. He’s been up and down the order at 4th and 5th and has been a bit of a floater, but he makes a statement in those two games to say, ‘Listen, I’m your best player, now let me 5th .3 and I’ll do a job.’”
The last ODI will be played on Saturday.
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