Cricket World Cup 2011
Aus struggle against spinners
Michael Clarke (AP)
Ahmedabad - Champions Australia were initially tied down by the Zimbabwe spinners before they managed to break free and post 262 runs for six in their opening World Cup match on Monday.
Tangled by a barrage of inspired spin bowling, Australia looked guarded in their approach at the start and needed some powerful hitting at the end in front of a quarter full stadium in Ahmedabad on a surface which had no demons in it.
Lusty hitting by vice-captain Michael Clarke (58 not out off 55 balls), David Hussey and Steve Smith at the close of the innings ensured Australia went past the 250-run mark.
Zimbabwe started with paceman Chris Mpofu and the experienced left-arm spinner Ray Price at the other end and both bowlers managed to keep openers Shane Watson (79) and Brad Haddin under check as they managed a meagre 28 runs in the first 10 overs.
Haddin, on 16, was lucky to survive when the ball trickled on to the stumps after hitting his pad, but failed to dislodge the bails.
What was surprising was the approach from the openers who never looked to attack the bowlers, barring the 14th over from Mpofu which went for 17 runs and included four boundaries.
The sweep shot, a preferred choice of batsmen against slow bowling was not employed much, as the Zimbabwe spinners went through their overs at breathtaking pace.
At one point their over rate was 17 overs per hour, three more than the desired rate.
The Zimbabweans also used the Decision Review System judiciously and were successful on both their referrals to get rid of Watson and Haddin leg before to their spinners.
On both occasions it was former captain and wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu who made sure that the decisions went upstairs to the third umpire.
Ponting and Watson managed to up the scoring rate with a 79-run partnership off 75 balls but Watson's dismissal and subsequently Ponting's run out hampered their tempo once again.
Captain Ponting was run out at the non-striking end by a brilliant direct throw from the mid-wicket boundary by the lanky Mpofu while attempting a second run.