Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell smashed a 38-ball 56 to lead his side to a nail-biting win over Zimbabwe in Harare.
Choosing to bat first, Zimbabwe got off to the worst possible start as opener Cephas Zhuwao was caught behind off the bowling of Billy Stanlake on the first ball of the match.
Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza only scored 13 runs before he was clean bowled by Jhye Richardson.
Tarisai Musakanda fared no better as he was caught by debutant Jack Wildermuth at third man off the bowling of Stanlake for 12.
Solomon Mire and wicketkeeper Peter Moor stabilised the innings with a 68-run partnership before Moor was dismissed by Richardson for 30.
Zimbabwe lost wickets at regular intervals once Moor was gone thanks to Andrew Tye, but with Mire scoring a 52-ball 63, which included five boundaries and two sixes, the hosts finished on 151/9 off their 20 overs.
Tye was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Stanlake and Richardson snapped up two wickets apiece. As for Wildermuth, he chipped in with one.
Chasing 152 to win, Australia made a disappointing start to their innings as captain Aaron Finch was sent packing by Wellington Masakadza for three runs.
Alex Carey, who opened the batting with Finch, only mustered 16 runs before he was removed by Blessing Muzarabani.
Maxwell and Travis Head steadied the ship with a 103-run partnership, during which Maxwell brought up his half-century.
However, he was unable to make the most of it as he was caught by Elton Chigumbura at short cover off the bowling of Muzarabani for 56, which came off 38 balls and included a boundary and five sixes.
Nic Maddinson fell shortly after for two runs, while Head went on to score 48 off 42 balls, which included three boundaries.
Australia went into the last over needing seven runs to win. However, Donald Tiripano started with two wides before conceding three runs in four balls.
Marcus Stoinis finished things off on the penultimate ball of the match as he struck a boundary over square leg.
Muzarabani was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Tiripano and Masakadza claimed one wicket each.
Masakadza was gutted to have lost, and said: “Fought well and took it to the end, which was good. The wicket played slower than expected and we couldn’t quite kick on in the end, even though we had a good partnership in the middle.
“We spoke about coming back from the first two games and the guys expressing themselves and I think Mire did that brilliantly. We are on the up now and I’m sure we’ll keep getting better and hopefully we’ll get a W in the Pakistan one-dayers.”
Finch was relieved to have won the match, and said: “I thought they bowled well towards the end and it shows the value of having a set batsman at the end. I think its important to get some time in the middle, get batting rhythm [about the middle order]. They’re hitting the balls well in training but nothing compares to match practice.
“The bowling was very good, we restricted Zimbabwe 15-20 runs short of what they’d have liked. We’ve been working up so far and hopefully we peak in the final.”
Tye was named Man of the Match, and said: “It’s something I’ve been working on, taking wickets at crucial times. I’ve got lucky in this series, taking wickets in the death and stopping teams when they want more runs. Good that we got the win today, hopefully as a team we get a win on Sunday too.
“Just got to look at where the batsmen are trying to hit balls and then mix their rhythm up by changing pace, the line and length. So just trying to adapt to every batsman because they’re all different. We’ve had a few troubles but I think we’re saving our best for last.”