Australia – 141 all out in 31 overs (David Warner 94, Glenn Maxwell 19, Aaron Finch 5; Ryan Burl 5/10, Brad Evans 2/35, Victor Nyauchi 1/15)
Zimbabwe – 142-7 in 39 overs (Regis Chakabva 37*, Tadiwanashe Marumani 35, Takudzwanashe Kaitano 19; Josh Hazlewood 3/30, Marcus Stoinis 1/6, Ashton Agar 1/16)
Zimbabwe won by three wickets
A stunning spell of five wickets from Ryan Burl, followed by a wonderful captain’s innings of 37 not out from Regis Chakabva, steered Zimbabwe to their first ever victory over Australia in their own backyard in the third and final one-day international at Riverway Stadium in Townsville on Saturday.
The tourists bowled out the home side for 141 and then fought all the way to chase down their target with three wickets and 11 overs in hand.
Zimbabwe broke their sequence of toss losses and were able to bowl first this time round.
They made two changes to their team, bringing in Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Victor Nyauchi for Innocent Kaia and Luke Jongwe.
Richard Ngarava and Nyauchi began with a superb opening spell against David Warner and Australia captain Aaron Finch, finding accuracy, movement in the air and bounce from the pitch.
Warner had one or two narrow escapes early on, but Finch fell again to the bowling of Ngarava, edging a catch to Burl at second slip for five to make it nine for one in the fifth over.
Steve Smith scored a single, but then decided to leave a ball from Nyauchi that came back in and trapped him lbw – 10 for two.
Warner, now joined by Alex Carey, decided to fight fire with fire and launched into a series of boundaries against the bowlers, taking the score to 31 in the ninth over.
Brad Evans replaced Ngarava and struck in his first over, as Carey, aiming a big hit over mid-on, edged a catch to Chakabva, the wicket-keeper, for four.
Warner hit Evans for six and four from successive deliveries, but the bowler fought back by producing a superb leg-cutter that Marcus Stoinis (3) edged to Chakabva.
The umpire gave it not out, but the Decision Review System supported Zimbabwe and the hosts were down to 59 for four in the 15th over.
Warner, dominating the batting, went through to his fifty off 47 balls.
Cameron Green began cautiously, but when he did try to open up he drove a catch to Burl at cover off the bowling of Sean Williams, and Australia were now in trouble at 72 for five off 18 overs.
Glenn Maxwell now seemed to prove the partner Warner needed, and the pair attacked the Zimbabwe spinners, sailing past the 100 in fine style.
Then came what proved to be a match-changing move, as Chakabva brought on Burl to bowl his leg-breaks.
Maxwell, with 19 off 22 balls, tried a big leg-side hit, but sliced the ball high on the off side, with the bowler himself able to run across and hold the catch.
Australia were now 129 for six in the 27th over, the pair having put on 57 runs in nine overs.
The next man, Ashton Agar, was out second ball, hitting a full toss straight to Wessly Madhevere at midwicket without addition to the score.
Warner looked unstoppable as he was now approaching his century, but in Burl’s next over, on 94, he decided to reach his century with a six over midwicket, only to mistime his stroke and getting caught by Evans on the boundary.
He had scored 94 off 96 balls, with two sixes and 14 fours, and left Australia with a score of 135 for eight off 29 overs.
This left only tail-enders to carry on the Australian innings, and in his next over Burl wrapped them up.
A flighted ball pitched right up to Mitchell Starc bowled him out for two, and the last man, Josh Hazlewood, edged his final delivery to the keeper, although it again took Zimbabwe’s DRS challenge to have him given out, without scoring.
This left Adam Zampa not out with one and Australia, to the disbelief of the locals, were dismissed for 141 in 31 overs.
Burl finished with the remarkable figures of five wickets for 10 runs off only three overs.
Evans picked up two wickets, and it was unfortunate that Ngarava and Nyauchi, who had bowled so well to make the early breakthrough, could only finish with a wicket each.
Zimbabwe had bowled and fielded so well that, apart from Warner, the only other Australia player to reach double figures was Maxwell.
The chase got underway with Kaitano opening the batting with Tadiwanashe Marumani, against the bowling of Starc and Hazlewood.
Starc began uncharacteristically with a couple of loose balls in his opening over, and Kaitano did very well to take full advantage, hitting two fours, to fine leg and past point, the ideal start for Zimbabwe.
Marumani had a quieter start, but in the fourth over played a superb straight drive for four off a good-length ball from Hazlewood.
He followed this with two successive boundaries off the first change bowler, Green, although the first was off the edge.
Both batters enjoyed a little luck, but they did well to take the score by positive batting to 38 in the ninth over before Kaitano edged a slip catch off Hazlewood after scoring 19 off 23 balls.
There followed some trouble for Zimbabwe, as the new man, Madhevere, scored only two before he slashed a ball from Hazlewood to give a sharp catch to point – 44 for two.
Sean Williams, in next, was most unfortunate in that his first ball was probably the most unplayable of the day, leaping up at him and brushing his glove to be caught by the wicket-keeper, Carey.
Then Sikandar Raza tried to pull a shortish ball from Stoinis, but got a top edge to send a catch to long leg, and departed for eight – 66 for four.
Chakabva then came in and did well from the start, but he lost Marumani, who had played a valuable innings, but now tried to charge Green and skyed a catch that was taken by the wicket-keeper running across to point.
He had scored 35 off 47 balls, with four fours, and Zimbabwe’s run-chase was now looking uncertain at 77 for five in the 19th over.
Then came the partnership that turned the match for Zimbabwe, as the cool-headed Tony Munyonga joined Chakabva at the wicket.
Munyonga did not begin very steadily, but he kept cool and hung in there, even though managing only a single off his first 15 balls.
He had some luck on seven, as he miscued a cut off Zampa, and Finch at slip could not hold a sharp chance – this proved to be a vital miss.
The pair otherwise consolidated well and the score began to mount amid great tension, the 100 coming up in the 27th over.
They took the score to 115, the partnership being worth 38 vital runs in 13 overs, before Munyonga swept at the wrong ball from Agar and was bowled for 17, scored off 40 balls.
Burl now joined Chakabva, and they continued to fight for runs against all the pressure that the Australians could apply, moving all the time closer to their target.
Burl played patiently, but when he had scored 11 off 17 balls, he mishit a drive and was easily caught at mid-off, with the score now 137 for seven after 37 overs.
It was another vital partnership that brought Zimbabwe another 21 runs and left five runs for victory, which was still not assured.
Chakabva, relying on all his experience, was joined by Evans, who kept his head and the runs came one by one.
Two overs later, Evans drove a ball from Starc through the covers for the single that won the match for Zimbabwe after 39 overs.
Evans had two not out, while Chakabva’s superb fighting innings brought him 37 not out off 72 balls, with three fours, a true captain’s innings.
Hazlewood was the most successful Australia bowler with three wickets for 30 runs in his full 10 overs.
Australia have won the series by two victories to one.