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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 December, 2004, 15:21 GMT
Solanki guides England to victory
Third one-day international, Bulawayo:
England 239-2 beat Zimbabwe 238-7 by eight wickets

England lead four-match series 3-0

Vikram Solanki

England cruised to an eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the third one-dayer in Bulawayo and can claim a series sweep if they win the final match on Sunday.

Vikram Solanki hit a delightful 100 off just 91 balls as Zimbabwe's score of 238-7 never looked sufficient on a pitch tailor-made for batting.

And Simon Jones had a good debut in one-day internationals as he took 2-43.

Zimbabwe's Stuart Matsikenyeri made his best score for his country of 73 and added two wickets with his leg-breaks.

Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to make first use of a hard, true wicket that had nothing in it for the bowlers.

With Darren Gough dropped, Alex Wharf and James Anderson opened the bowling for the tourists.

Anderson once again struggled for rhythm and must have been relieved that a series of half-volleys and other hittable deliveries were watchfully defended.

Wharf threatened much more and after 13 overs, Matsikenyeri and Brendan Taylor had ground out 29 runs.

Simon Jones
The shaven-headed Jones had a good ODI debut for England

Jones, hit for four in his first over as Matsikenyeri produced a confident drive through the covers, struck for England with his seventh ball.

Taylor contrived to edge a forward defensive shot, giving wicket-keeper Geraint Jones the simplest of catches to leave Zimbabwe 45-1 in the 16th over.

The arrival of Dion Ebrahim gave a boost to the scoring rate, however, as Paul Collingwood came under pressure and Matsikenyeri hit the shot of the match - a square cut for six off Jones.

Michael Vaughan changed tactics to have himself and Ashley Giles operating in tandem.

Further wickets were not immediately forthcoming, however, although the boundaries began to dry up.

Ebrahim, after hitting two early boundaries including a reverse sweep for four off Giles, struggled late on but it was Matsikenyeri who was the first to fall after registering his first half-century in one-day internationals.

The wicket came in the 36th over, ending a 98-run partnership, as Matsikenyeri top-edged a sweep off Vaughan to short fine-leg.

If that wicket checked the hosts, then two run-outs in as many balls knocked the stuffing out of them.

The first came when Mark Vermeulen (12) jogged a single to extra cover only for Collingwood to throw down his stumps.

Then Elton Chigumbura turned for a second run to deep square leg, but Ebrahim was not in the least bit interested and both batsmen ended up at the same end.

Hamilton Masakadza overcame a shaky start to hit a breezy 21 before being bowled by Giles, before Wharf had Ebrahim caught in the deep.

Tatenda Taibu, oddly batting at seven, clubbed 24 off 18 balls before giving Jones his second wicket via a catch at long-on.

But an indication of how good the pitch was for batting came when number eight batsman Prosper Utseya, new to the crease, drove the last ball of the innings for four.

Stuart Matsikenyeri
Matsikenyeri's batting was a bright spot for Zimbabwe on Saturday

Solanki and Ian Bell gave Zimbabwe's green fast bowlers a torrid time.

Bell hit Tinashe Panyangara for six with a nonchalant flick over square leg, while Solanki unfurled a series of rasping cuts and drives.

Bell was dropped on 17 and Solanki, twice, on 38.

The Worcestershire batsman made up for his double let-off to hit four fours in one Chigumbura over.

And when Bell added three delightful boundaries in a single Chris Mpofu over, Taibu turned to spin from both ends.

At this point the batsmen were content to trade largely in singles, though Bell was out for 53 when edging Matsikeyeri to Taibu.

Solanki hit Utseya for the second of his two sixes but made sure of his century by showing plenty of caution in a dour partnership of 53 in 14 overs with Michael Vaughan.

On 100, Solanki holed out to long-off, Vaughan (54 not out) and Andrew Strauss getting England home at a crawl in the 44th over.

Zimbabwe: Stuart Matsikenyeri, Brendan Taylor, Tatenda Taibu (captain), Dion Ebrahim, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Mark Vermeulen, Tinashe Panyangara, Prosper Utseya, Chris Mpofu, Douglas Hondo.

England: Michael Vaughan (captain), Ian Bell, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones, Ashley Giles, Alex Wharf, Simon Jones, James Anderson.

Report: BBC Five Live's Jonathan Agnew

Interview: England opener Vikram Solanki

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