Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia captain Aaron Finch stole the spotlight in Harare as he walloped a record-breaking 172 to lead his side to a 100-run win over Zimbabwe.
Finch broke his own record of 156 to register the highest score in Twenty20 Internationals.
Being put in to bat first, Finch and D’Arcy Short nearly batted out the entire 20 overs as they amassed a jaw-dropping 223-run partnership, during which Finch raced past his century and even the 150-run mark.
While Finch dominated the majority of the partnership, Short was nearing his half-century, but didn’t get there as he was caught behind off the bowling of Blessing Muzarabani for 46, which came off 42 balls and included three boundaries and two sixes.
Finch and Short etched their names in the record books for amassing the largest partnership in Twenty20 Internationals as they eclipsed the previous record of 171 not out put together by New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson.
Finch was on his way back to the pavilion two balls later as he trod on his stumps after scoring a career-best 172, which came off 76 deliveries and included 16 boundaries and 10 sixes.
Thanks to Finch, Australia ended up making 229/2 off their 20 overs.
Muzarabani was the only bowler to take any wickets.
Chasing a mammoth target of 230 to win, Zimbabwe made a quick start to their innings as openers Chamu Chibhabha and Solomon Mire forged a 42-run partnership in under four overs before Chibhabha was caught behind off the bowling of Jhye Richardson for 18.
Mire went on to score a 19-ball 28 before he was caught by Marcus Stoinis at mid-on off the bowling of Billy Stanlake.
Zimbabwe began to lose wickets at regular intervals after Mire’s dismissal as Ashton Agar and Andrew Tye carved through their middle and lower order.
With none of their batsmen putting up a fight, Zimbabwe concluded their innings on 129/9.
Tye was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Agar took two and Stanlake, Richardson, Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell claimed one wicket apiece.
Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza was disappointed to have lost once again, and said: “We thought it couldn’t get tougher than the first match, but here it was – got tougher. Credit to Finch, he struck it from first ball. Think we can bowl a bit better. We’ve conceded few too many in the Powerplay. We need someone to take a bit more responsibility. Boys started well with the bat. Tomorrow, let’s see if we can improve in tomorrow’s game against Pakistan.”
Finch, who was named Man of the Match, was thrilled to have won and set a number of records, and said: “Yeah, it was nice to get a few in the middle, and break the record. Could’ve started better with the ball, so I thought we could’ve been more polished in the field. I thought using the spinners was the right move on the surface. Short was good too, but we bowled well in the middle overs. This innings is right up there. They don’t happen very often, so very pleased with it.”