Johnson pace crushes Zimbabwe

Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait shared six wickets in a superb display of fast bowling to fire Australia to a crushing 91-run win over Zimbabwe in their opening World Cup match on Monday.

Johnson finished with 4-19 and Tait, bowling in short spells, took 2-34 as defending champions Australia dismissed Zimbabwe for 171 after scoring a challenging 262-6 in the day-night match.

There was no respite from pace for the hapless Zimbabwe as Brett Lee also tested the batsmen to finish with 1-34 as Australia racked up their 24th successive World Cup win.

The win was also the perfect way for captain Ricky Ponting to elebrate his record-breaking 40th World Cup match in the Group A clash at the the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium.

Australia, aiming to win a fourth successive World Cup, virtually wrapped up the match when they reduced Zimbabwe to 44-4 in 12.3 overs, with Johnson taking two wickets and Lee and Tait one apiece.

Zimbabwe, however, had reasons to be pleased with the performance of their spinners, who did not allow the Australian batsmen to score freely with their disciplined efforts.

But their top-order batsmen failed to back the bowlers, offering no resistance to the Australian pace trio of Johnson, Tait and Lee with tailender Graeme Cremer top-scoring with a fighting 37.

Australia were earlier indebted to in-form opener, and man of the match, Watson (79) and Michael Clarke (58 not out) for setting a challenging target, but could never really dominate the Zimbabwean spin attack.

Zimbabwe used seven bowlers, including five spinners who sent down 39 of the allotted 50 overs.