Australia’s bowling attack ripped through Zimbabwe’s batting line-up to fire the reigning world champions to victory in their opening match of the World Cup in Ahmedabad, India.

Batting first, Australia made a sluggish start but half-centuries from Shane Watson and Michael Clarke, as well as some useful lower-order hitting from David Hussey and Steve Smith, helped set Zimbabwe a target of 263.

It always seemed set to be a bridge too far for Zimbabwe and the writing was on the wall once they were reduced to 3-40 in the 12 over, with Australia’s pace trio of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait claiming one wicket each.

Zimbabwe produced some resistance in their lower order but the horse had long bolted by then and Australia were left to mop up the tail, Johnson the main beneficiary, finishing with 4-19 as the reigning champions recorded a solid 76-run win.

Sterner challenges await Australia, though, beginning with New Zealand on Friday.