Australia A needed only one session of the third day to wrap up an 80-run victory against Zimbabwe Select XI, after setting them a target of 241 to win. At 51 for 4 overnight, it was merely a matter of time for Australia A, and Pakistani-born legspinner Fawad Ahmed was the man who sped up the clock.
He made a loud claim for a call-up to Australia’s Ashes squad as he ended the match with eight wickets, although the national selectors may need some information on the pitch he achieved these figures on. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo on Friday, Zimbabwe’s captain, Brendan Taylor, confirmed he was concerned about the surface, which was dry, slow and taking plenty of turn.
That will not detract from the inadequacies of their batsmen. Hamilton Masakadza was the only one to record a half-century in the match, and his defiance was the only thing that kept Australia A at bay for a short while. Masakadza shared a 67-run fifth-wicket stand with nightwatchman Kyle Jarvis, who once again showed why he could bat higher up if needed.
He made a confident 34 and when he was dismissed, Zimbabwe folded. They lost their last five wickets for 38 runs, in another lower-order collapse which exposed their weakness against spin, which was laid so bare on their March tour of West Indies. Ahmed cleaned up the tail and David Warner took the final wicket; his notable contribution of the match.
Warner scored 17 runs in both innings in an attempt to show his readiness to rejoin the Ashes squad, and will need to make a greater impression in South Africa. Australia A will play South Africa A in two four-day matches starting next Wednesday, although the wintry conditions could make for similarly interesting surfaces.
For Zimbabwe, a five-ODI series against India beckons, and they have plenty to think about. The form of their bowlers – Jarvis, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chatara and Natsai M’shangwe, will be pleasing to new coach Andy Waller, but batting concerns continue to worry them.
Neither opener, Vusi Sibanda and Sikandar Raza, showed the right temperament and technique against Australia A’s pace attack, and with Taylor misfiring, the middle order looks fragile. Masakadza will need to score many more runs, and inspire the same from the rest, if they hope to put on a decent show in the coming months.
Australia A 226 (Henriques 71, Jarvis 4-54) & 156 (Doolan 52, Chigumbura 4-26) beat Zimbabwe Select XI 142 (Waller 25, Ahmed 4-54) & 160 (Masakadza 69, Ahmed 4-23) by 80 runs
Date: 20 July 2013