Zimbabwe beat Australia for the first time in 31 years on Sunday as captain Elton Chigumbura’s 52 not out led his team to a famous three-wicket win in the ODI triangular series.
Opposite number Michael Clarke also made an unbeaten half-century for Australia but re-injured his hamstring in only his country’s second loss ever to the southern African team and said he would leave the tournament to return home for treatment.
Chigumbura carried the tournament host to 211-7, overhauling Australia’s below-par 209-9 on a tough batting strip at Harare Sports Club. It was Zimbabwe’s first win over the currently top-ranked Australians since they met in ODIs for the first time at the 1983 World Cup. Chigumbura had valuable help from Prosper Utseya, who was 30 not out in the match-winning partnership at the end.
The tense victory sealed with two overs to spare but after Zimbabwe was struggling at 156-7 sparked rare celebrations and a lap of honor for a team that recently lost two ODIs in a row to draw a series with lowly Afghanistan and had been beaten in its previous seven one-dayers at home.
“I had to be there until the end,” Chigumbura said. “The most important thing was to stay calm. The guys worked very hard for this and the supporters were behind us throughout.”
Utseya, whose 30 came off just 28 balls to help carry Zimbabwe home, sealed the win by launching a six over mid-wicket.
Zimbabwe’s win was built on its earlier spin bowling effort as the Australian batsmen struggled on a slow, turning pitch to only just get past 200.
“Definitely not enough runs,” Clarke said, “but credit to Zimbabwe, they bowled well and batted well. We lost the match during our innings, and Zimbabwe showed us how to play spin.”
Clarke hit his half-century in his first international in six months and after passing a fitness test to play, but retired hurt in the 43rd over just as Australia appeared to be slowly recovering from a poor start.
The Aussies had been 97-5 after Zimbabwe’s spinners struck early and quickly, but Clarke built a 50-run stand with Brad Haddin (49) before he made the decision to limp off and limit any damage to his hamstring.
Haddin was supported by Ben Cutting (26) down the order but Australia ultimately didn’t have enough runs and offspinner Nathan Lyon’s 4-44 couldn’t save Australia.