Zimbabwe on Friday faced a challenging start to their Netball World Cup campaign, as they encountered a dominant Australian side that secured an 86-30 victory in the tournament opener.

The Gems fought hard, but the Diamonds’ coach, Stacey Marinkovich, confidently rotated all players on court. Australia’s attack end was on song, with Cara Koenen finishing 29 out of 30 attempts, Sophie Garbin 27 out of 30, Kiera Austin 18 out of 20, and Steph Wood 12 out of 13.

The Diamonds started strong, securing an early turnover, but Zimbabwe equalized briefly. However, the Aussies quickly regained the lead.

Zimbabwe struggled with accuracy, while player of the match Courtney Bruce’s defensive rebounds thwarted their efforts.

The Diamonds’ skipper, Liz Watson, showed great determination, bouncing back after crashing into the advertising boards. Her resilience inspired the team as the Diamonds lifted their defensive game. At the end of the first quarter, Australia led 20-11.

Australia’s disciplined display allowed them to concede just 16 penalties in the entire first half.

The Gems struggled with front-half turnovers. By the end of the third quarter, Australia held a commanding 62-24 lead.

The Diamonds maintained their dominance until the end, securing an imposing 86-30 victory.

Zimbabwe is in Pool A along with Australia, Tonga and Fiji. The tournament is being played in a round robin format, with the top three teams from each pool advance to the next stage.

The bottom team from each pool is effectively eliminated from the main competition, but moves into Group E to contest 13th to 16th place.

The previous Netball World Cup took place in 2019 and was held in Liverpool with New Zealand finishing as champions for the fifth time after beating Australia by one goal.

Zimbabwe finished 8th in the previous World Cup in 2019, after losing to Malawi 59-43 in the seventh-place playoff. They had a remarkable debut in the tournament, beating Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and Barbados in the group stages.

They also gave a spirited performance against New Zealand, losing 79-36 but earning praise from the Silver Ferns’ coach Noeline Taurua. Zimbabwe’s shooter Joice Takaidza was one of the top scorers of the tournament, with 280 goals from 308 attempts.

Zimbabwe’s preparations for this year’s tournament were hampered by limited funding, affecting their ability to fully train and strategize. Despite these challenges, the Gems will hope to showcase their fighting spirit and determination on the court.