Thursday, September 13, 2007

No Twenty20: Zimbabwe take it all from Australia

An outraged Ricky Ponting blasted his team after Australia were stunned by Zimbabwe in their opening match of the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.
The skipper held nothing back in his summation of the shock five-wicket loss, even heaping plenty of the blame on himself as Australia's top order failed miserably in Cape Town.
After restricting Australia to 9-138 from their 20 overs, Zimbabwe - needing 12 runs from the final over - claimed an amazing victory when they scored four leg byes from the penultimate delivery.
Opener Brendon Taylor was the star for the Africans, picking up the man-of-the-match award after a superb 60 not out. Zimbabwe celebrated as if they had won the World Cup, rushing onto the field in jubilation before doing a lap of honour while Australia licked their wounds in the dressing room.
The humiliating defeat leaves the one-day world champions in danger of crashing out of the tournament at the first hurdle, with their only hope of advancing past the group stage and into the Super Eights lying with a victory over England on Friday.
Asked if he felt embarrassed by the loss, Ponting forthrightly replied: "Yeah of course, and we should. We rightly should. "There might be a lot of Australians back home who feel the same way as well. "It's not been that often that I've walked off the cricket field feeling that way, but I think if you went into our rooms and asked every other player in there they'll say the same thing.'' Ponting admitted his team was outplayed and needed to show more respect for the game.
"It is a mental thing for us, we have to start respecting the game a bit more and thinking what we have to do,'' he said. "We have been outplayed today no doubt about that.''
While they did have two warm-up games at the weekend, the match was Australia's first international fixture since winning the World Cup in April, and the rustiness of that four-month break showed.
Ponting, who told his side after the match "if that's not a wake up call to all of us, then nothing ever will be'', was particularly scathing of the top order. After winning the toss and batting, Australia were 3-19 in just the fourth over after Matthew Hayden (4), Adam Gilchrist (4) and Ponting (8) all fell cheaply. "If we look at the way that we played, our batting at the top just wasn't good enough,'' Ponting said.
"No doubt today, being 3-19, that's probably where the game was lost. "So particularly the top three batters have got to have a bit more respect for their own games and make sure they get some more time in the middle and some more runs.''
Brad Hodge (35 not out off 22) and Andrew Symonds (33 from 25) ensured Australia set a competitive target. But they were well held by a disciplined Zimbabwe bowling attack - led by Elton Chigumbura (3-20) and Gary Brent (2-19) - which in turn was well backed by some at-times brilliant fielding.
That discipline seeped through to the run chase, with Taylor keeping a steady hand despite the disruption of a 30-minute rain delay in the 12th over. Needing 12 from the final over, Taylor hit Bracken for four from the first ball before whittling the equation down to four runs from two balls.
Bracken fired his penultimate delivery at Taylor's legs, with the ball flicking the pad and racing to the fine-leg boundary - just evading the fingertips of a diving Stuart Clark.

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