By Enock Muchinjo
THE touring Australian Commonwealth Bank Centre of Excellence got off to a flyer when they beat the Zimbabwe Board XI by 119 runs at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
The Academy side had posted an imposing total of 309 runs for the loss of j
ust one wicket.
Zimbabwe fielded a second-string side made up of on-the-mend players such as Christopher Mpofu and Chamunorwa Chibhabha. Other than those trying to hit form after recuperating from injury, there were also youngsters who are still on the fringes of both first-class and international cricket.
The home side was captained by Blessing Mahwire and included Piet Rinke, both keen to cement their places in the senior side.
As the Zimbabwe Board XI new ball pair of Mahwire and Mpofu struggled for rhythm and control, the Academy opening duo of Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh, the son of former Australia and Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh, took advantage in the early overs and dominated the home bowlers.
Marsh smashed a brutal 170 from 144 balls, with good company coming from Paine (63), who rode on luck after being dropped in the early stages of his innings by Tafadzwa Kamungozi at deep extra-cover.
Right-arm leg-break bowler Kamungozi, however, made late amends when he clean-bowled Paine in the 27th over.
Zimbabwe, in pursuit of the victory target of 310, did not get to a good start, as opener Tinashe Hove fell leg-before to opening right-arm fast bowler Ben Hilfenaus.
Rinke looked to stabilise the chase, but, after scoring a brisk 16, he paid for some shoddy communication with Chibhabha as they found themselves running in the same direction to invite a run-out at the striker’s end.
Chibhabha continued undeterred, digging out some well-executed strokes on his way to a steady 42. He was dismissed by left-arm orthodox Adam Voges, caught at square-leg by Paine as he attempted to drive past square-leg.
Number four Friday Kasteni (30), had given Chibhabha support, but perished three overs later. The introduction of Tafadzwa Mufambisi brought back some urgency, but he quickly lost Tino Mawoyo (17) who was run out by a combination of Aaron Finch and wicketkeeper Adam Crosthwaite trying to edge past gully.
Number seven Eric Chauluka followed to the pavilion the next over, becoming the next victim of Doran, who clipped his bails for a duck.