ome might have thought that the 3 matches played today were foregone conclusions. Others like Ray Mali would have told you a different story about who would be victorious in the final game of the day.
Zimbabwe was given a small total to chase and they managed to chase it down in the last over. Australia struggled all through their innings and whilst the conditions weren’t easy the batsman were not hanging around for long enough to get settled in except for Symonds and Hodge who both got in the 30’s. Zimbabwe’s opening bowlers – Elton Chigumbura and Gary Brent had combined figures of 7 overs 39 runs 5 wickets. The most expesive bowler for Zimbabwe was Tatenda Taibu who went for 20 in 2 overs.
In contrast Australia opening bowlers, Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken bowled 8 overs for 56 runs 2 wickets. Essentially this was the difference between the two teams. Brad Hodge was the most expensive bowlers with the same figures as Taibu.
There was not much difference between the two sides apart from the attitude. Boucher got fined 60% of his match fees for indicating in a report that he preferred the other formats, which meant he was bringing the game into disrepute so I shudder to imagine what Australia would be docked if they had to face a South African inquiry. They have seemingly mocked this form of cricket and paid the price. One can only hope England carry on the lesson Zimbabwe started – failing to plan is planning to fail….
Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat, which looked to be going horribly wrong when they were 72/7 in the 24th over. Elton Chigumbura and Gary Brent came to the wicket and fell 2 runs short of setting a record 8th wicket partnership for Zimbabwe. However their 115 run stand ensured it was the 4th highest of all time in ODI’s and helped to give some credibility to their score.
South Africa could be accused of not going for the jugular, as Ntini, Pollock and Philander each had 2 overs left in their spell. This could be attributed to neighbourly friendliness or perhaps Smith was testing out all his options. Either way it allowed South Africa to have a bit of a bat even though it was a modest 207 runs required.
There were some highlights from the innings, with Zimbabwe equalling the record for most players run out in an ODI, Gary Brent doubled his highest ODI score, Smith didn’t bowl himself and let two other spinners have a go including Bodi who hasn’t had much of a bowl since he converted into a batsman. Maruma, batting at number 10, made his debut memorable by hitting a six off van der Wath for his ever ODI boundary.
The SA bowlers were fairly tight, Morkel managed to go for 33 in his 10 overs including 5 wides. Philander was the pick of the bowlers going for 15 runs in his 8 overs and collecting 2 wickets. The villain in the pack was van der Wath going for 59 in 9 overs including allowing the tail order debutant to hit him for 6 in the last over. (No doubt there will be a fine in the changing room for that)
SA got off to a shaky start with Bosman caught behind in the first over, however that was the only joy Zimbabwe were going to get. Smith reached 50 before being dismissed, Bodi made 51 off 99 balls and De Villiers contributed 63. Duminy also didn’t take advantage of the situation making 3 before being judged LBW. Pollock and Philander ensured no more wickets fell and SA cruised to a comfortable 5 wicket victory.
Some reports indicate that South Africa should have won more handsomely, however there are no special prizes for giving a significantly weaker side a hiding. SA have 2 more ODI’s against Zimbabwe, on Saturday and Sunday where more tactics can be tried in preparation for the Twenty20 Championships.