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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 11:11 GMT
Aussies outplay Zimbabwe
VB Series, Match 9, Adelaide: Australia 279-7 (50 overs) beat Zimbabwe 266-8 (50 overs) by 13 runs

Michael Bevan
Australia P6 W5 L1 Pts 28
RR 0.92
India P6 W4 L2 Pts 23
RR 0.35
Zimbabwe P6 W0 L6 Pts 3
RR -1.19

Michael Bevan returned to form with 75 for Australia as Zimbabwe slumped to a sixth successive VB Series defeat.

Bevan, who had managed only 64 runs in five previous innings, faced 91 balls and hit six fours as Australia totalled 279-7 at the Adelaide Oval.

Opener Grant Flower scored 94 in reply, but Zimbabwe fell behind the required rate and could only muster 266-8.

Andy Blignaut made 31 not out off 22 balls in the final overs but Australia came out on top by 13 runs.

With their place in the final against India already assured, Australia were able to experiment with their line-up, with Adam Gilchrist, Ian Harvey and Andy Bichel given a rest.

Brad Haddin replaced Gilchrist behind the stumps, but he was not needed at the start as Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat first.

The decision to try Damien Martyn at the top of the order failed to pay off as he fell for nine to a juggling catch by Dion Ebrahim at gully in Heath Streak's third over.

The same fielder also accounted for Matthew Hayden (20) off Andy Blignaut after a stand of 59 in nine overs with Ponting.

The Australian skipper looked in superb form, collecting 11 fours in his 63 off 71 balls, but was run out with the total on 128 after a brilliant diving stop at mid-wicket by Blignaut.

Bevan was dropped on 14 by Doug Hondo, having been promoted three places up the order to number four, and he played the senior role in a stand of 77 with Clarke.

Grant Flower
Flower found the boundary seevn times in his 106-ball innings

But Zimbabwe hit back as Clarke was run out for 36 by Flower and Bevan finally departed when he lofted a ball from Hondo to Sean Ervine at long-off.

Haddin was lbw to Streak for 14 and he also accounted for Andrew Symonds (34) in the last over of the innings to finish with 3-45.

Zimbabwe made a poor start in reply as the pace of Brad Williams and Brett Lee accounted for Tatenda Taibu and Travis Friend, who were both bowled.

Williams also accounted for Stuart Carlisle, who was caught by substitute fielder Harvey for 15, but Flower and Ervine put on 69 to keep the tourists in with a chance.

Ervine followed his maiden century against India with 33 before he fell to spinner Brad Hogg and Flower missed out on a century when he was caught behind off Jason Gillespie in the next over, having hit seven fours.

Ebrahim and Stuart Matsikenyeri followed and the final blow to Zimbabwe's hopes came when Streak skied an attempted return catch to Symonds after making 28.

Blignaut and Ray Price tried made a gallant effort to retrieve the situation, but the task was beyond them as Australia eased home in relative comfort.

Australia: M L Hayden, D R Martyn, R T Ponting (Capt), A Symonds M G Bevan, M J Clarke, B J Haddin (Wkt), G B Hogg, B Lee J N Gillespie, B A Williams.

Zimbabwe: S Matsikenyeri, G W Flower, T J Friend, S V Carlisle S M Ervine, A M Blignaut, H H Streak (Capt), D D Ebrahim T Taibu (Wkt), R W Price, D T Hondo.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and S J Davis

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