A late surge from David Hussey, Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson took Australia to an unlikely total of 261/6 after they had been tottering at just over 4-runs-an-over for most of the innings. Shane Watson top-scored with 79 off 92 balls and Michael Clarke scored an unbeaten 58 off 55 balls, while Zimbabwe fast bowler Chris Mpofu took 2/58 from 9 overs and the three frontline spinners ensnared 1 wicket a piece.
Winning the toss and opting to bat first, Australia began their innings on an uncharacteristically cautious note. Zimbabwe made the shrewd decision to open their bowling with a spinner - Ray Price, who got ample support from a very tight pacer in Chris Mpofu.
Hence, the Aussies were only 19 after 7 overs with the first four of the innings coming in the 8th. With the off-spin of Prosper Utseya joining the slow-left-arm of Price, Zimbabwe continued to keep a check on the Aussies' run flow as the latter moved to 32/0 in 13.
But when Mpofu was brought back into the attack, Watson cut loose, carting him away for four boundaries in the 14th over. Haddin and Watson took Australia past 50 in the 15th over. But three overs later, there was trouble when Utseya trapped Haddin in front for 29 off 66 and Australia were 61/1 in 18.5 overs.
Then captain Ricky Ponting joined forces with Watson and the two attempted to up the scoring rate a tad. Watson took a four of Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura to help the Aussies move past 100.
Then the batsman lofted leg-spinner Graeme Cremer for a huge six, before sending Chigumbura to the backward of square boundary. But Watson had played one shot too many (or too little) when he was lbw to Cremer for 79 off 92. Australia had slipped to 140/2 in 31.2 overs. In the very next over, Ponting was run out for 28 with his side wobbling on 144/3.
The new batsmen Michael Clarke and Cameron White took Australia to 150 in the 34th over and pressed on. Soon after Australia crossed the 200-run mark, in the 45th over, Mpofu returned to bowl Cameron White for 22 off 36 balls. Australia were 207/4, with David Hussey the new man at the crease.
Hussey threw the kitchen sink at the Zimbabweans, striking a six off Sean Williams and a four off Utseya. Then Clarke got into the act, getting Mpofu away for two fours before Ray Price bowled Hussey for 14 off 8 balls.
Australia were 241/4 before Steven Smith came out with all guns blazing, striking Price for a four and six straight up. Australia had thus crossed 250 in the penultimate over. But Mpofu claimed Smith's wicket with the first ball of the final over. Then Mitchell Johnson biffed a couple of big hits to take Australia to 262/6 in 50 overs.