Cameron Green took a five-wicket haul and David Warner and Steve Smith starred with the bat as Australia defeated Zimbabwe by five wickets in their opening ODI in Townsville.
After Zimbabwe were sent in by Australian skipper Aaron Finch at the Riverway Stadium on Sunday, Green produced an outstanding performance to take 5-33 from nine overs as the tourists were bowled out for 200.
The allrounder removed danger-man Sikandar Raza – who had made three centuries in his past six innings – and skipper Regis Chakabva early on, and came back later to mop up the tail.
Having claimed only one wicket in his seven previous ODIs Green, named man of the match, said a lack of restriction on his overs gave him plenty of confidence heading into contest.
“I think I’m in a really good place at the moment where those restrictions aren’t really there,” the 23-year-old told reporters.
“[We] just had a really clear gameplan … got a bit lucky at the end there, was just the right place at the right time trying to bowl back of a length on a wicket that was kind of going up and down.
“I was luckily the one who got the rewards, but I think the rest of the team bowled really well and basically gave me the opportunity to be in that position.”
Zimbabwe’s Wesley Madhevere scored a career-high 72 off 91 balls and opener Tadiwanashe Marumani added 45 in their innings.
Adam Zampa (3-57) had Madhavere caught and bowled with the last delivery of his 10-over spell. Warner set the tone in the Australian innings with a stylish 57 off 66 balls.
While Finch chopped on in the ninth over for 15, Warner was well supported by Smith, who made an unbeaten 48 from 80 balls at No 3 as Alex Carey, Mitch Marsh and Marcus Stoinis fell cheaply to spin at the other end.
Leg-spinner Ryan Burl (3-60) claimed all three wickets as Zimbabwe briefly gained momentum, but Glenn Maxwell’s hard-hitting 32 off nine deliveries ensured Australia cruised to victory.
Back-to-back sixes by Maxwell handed Australia a win in their first of 17 ODIs before next year’s World Cup in India.
Game two of the best-of-three series is on Wednesday at the Riverway Stadium.