Zimbabwe – 96 all out in 27.5 overs (Sean Williams 29, Sikandar Raza 17, Regis Chakabva 10; Adam Zampa 3/21, Mitchell Starc 3/24, Cameron Green 2/7)
Australia – 100-2 in 14.4 overs (Steven Smith 47*, Alex Carey 26*, David Warner 13; Richard Ngarava 2/16)
Australia won by eight wickets
A superb spell of new-ball bowling from Australia left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc shattered the Zimbabwe top order and sent them on their way to an eight-wicket defeat in the second one-day international match at Riverway Stadium in Townsville on Wednesday.
The tourists lost the toss again and once again they were put in to bat on a pitch that seemed to be tailor-made for the home side’s array of pace bowlers.
Starc, swinging the ball and moving it off the pitch at pace with bounce, removed Zimbabwe’s top three batters in each of his second, third and fourth overs.
The score had reached 13, of which seven were extras, when Innocent Kaia (2) was beaten and yorked by a late inswinger that just tipped his off stump.
Two overs later another full swinging delivery trapped Wessly Madhevere lbw without scoring, as he tried to flick it to the leg side.
Tadiwanashe Marumani (4) was the third to go, as he flicked a ball in the air straight to forward short leg who took a comfortable catch, and in the seventh over Zimbabwe were 14 for three.
Zimbabwe’s two most experienced batters, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza, now had to play themselves in with care, see off the top Australia pacemen and rebuild the innings.
Raza in particular had a couple of early narrow escapes, but finally he decided it was time to increase the run rate.
He hit Josh Hazelwood for four over midwicket and six over long-off from successive deliveries, but two balls later he edged a short fast lifting delivery to the keeper and was caught for 17 off 37 balls – 46 for four in the 15th over.
The captain, Regis Chakabva, came in and tried to get the runs flowing again – he scored 10 off 14 balls before he tried to clip a ball from the left-arm spinner Ashton Agar over the field but got a leading edge to mid-off, making the score 59 for five in the 18th over.
Tony Munyonga edged a ball from seamer Cameron Green that moved away from him, having made 10 off 15 balls – 79 for six in the 23rd over.
Williams all this time was trying both to hold the innings together and to increase the scoring rate, but in the 24th over he failed to read Adam Zampa’s googly and sliced a catch to short third man, where Green took a good diving catch.
He had scored 29 off 45 balls, and Zimbabwe’s troubles deepened at 83 for seven.
Ryan Burl hit a couple of good fours, but on 10 he got a ball from Green that bounced and moved off the pitch, and he could only edge it to the keeper for 10 in the 27th over – 93 for eight.
Luke Jongwe scored only a single before he too was surprised by a flipper from Zampa that bounced more than he expected, and went off his pad on to his stumps – 95 for nine.
Later in the same over Brad Evans (2) missed a slog to Zampa’s googly and was out lbw to a marginal decision, and Zimbabwe were all out for 96 in only 27.5 overs.
Starc took three wickets for 24 in eight overs, while Zampa had three for 21 and Green two for seven.
The conditions were still helpful to the pacemen, and Richard Ngarava put in a fine opening spell.
David Warner hit Evans for two fours in the latter’s opening over, but he slashed at the next ball he faced from Ngarava, and Evans himself took a fine low catch at third man to send him back for 13 out of 15 runs on the board.
Three balls later Ngarava removed Aaron Finch (1) with a fine delivery that caught him in two minds and resulted in an edge to slip, where the catch was held by Raza.
Australia were now 16 for two, and Zimbabwe pressed in hard to try to achieve another breakthrough.
But the hosts had plenty of time to score the runs, so they were not under pressure as Steve Smith and Alex Carey settled in together.
Smith however had a couple of narrow escapes against Ngarava and Evans, and Zimbabwe were most unfortunate not to secure his wicket early on.
He decided to hit his way out of trouble, which he began to do with some success, taking it out on Raza, whom he hit for three fours in an over.
Smith, who scored 47 not out off 41 balls, and Carey, 26 off 33, scored so quickly now that Australia romped home in 14.4 overs.
Ngarava took two wickets for 16 runs in his four excellent overs, and this included a rather desperate and uncharacteristic six from Smith.
Jongwe’s three overs cost only 13 runs.
The third and final match takes place at the same venue on Saturday, with Australia leading the series by two victories to nil.