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.