Leg-spinner Ryan Burl picked up 5-10 in just three overs on Saturday as Zimbabwe stunned Australia in the third one-day international in Townsville, registering an exciting three-wicket victory and denying the hosts a series clean-sweep. Sent in to bat, to the crowd’s short-lived delight, Australia slumped to 141 all out in 31 overs with a counter-attacking 94 from 96 balls by David Warner the only major contribution.
Australia’s bowlers tried admirably to defend the low total, but visiting captain Regis Chakabva (37 off 72 balls) ensured his side secured an unlikely upset, only their third ODI win against the home side, reaching 142-7 in 39 overs. “Regis did exactly the right thing, he played some beautiful shots today but at the same time he steered the ship and got the guys over the line,” Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton said.
In tricky morning conditions, Aaron Finch’s wretched run of form showed no sign of abating. He added five before being caught at second slip off the bowling of seamer Richard Ngarava, who accounted for the Australia skipper in all three matches. Wickets tumbled on the two-paced surface and Australia slid to 72-5 when left-arm spinner Sean Williams had Cameron Green caught for three.
Warner remained positive as wickets fell around him, including two in Burl’s first over when the all-rounder claimed Glenn Maxwell (19) and then Ashton Agar for a duck. But the aggressive opener fell just shy of three figures, slog-sweeping Burl into the hands of Brad Evans.
Burl clean-bowled Mitchell Starc midway through the 30th over, and only had to wait three more balls to record his first international five-wicket haul when Josh Hazlewood was caught-behind. Openers Takudzwanashe Kaitano (19) and Tadiwanashe Marumani (35) absorbed early pressure during the reply, but consecutive wickets by Hazlewood pegged Zimbabwe back.
In his 102nd ODI, Starc had man-of-the-match Burl caught for 11 late in the innings to become the fastest player to reach 200 wickets. But it was too-little-too-late, as a captain’s knock from Chakabva anchored the innings.
Evans struck Starc through the covers to score the winning runs, cementing Townsville’s position in Zimbabwean cricket folklore as the team celebrated their first ODI win against the hosts on Australian soil. Australia will now travel to Cairns for a one-day series with New Zealand beginning Tuesday, while Zimbabwe’s next assignment is in October when they return Down Under for the Twenty20 World Cup.
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