South Africa Send Zimbabwe Packing
South Africa 94-0 (Levi 50no) beat
Zimbabwe 93-8 (Kallis 4-15) by 10 wickets
ICC World T20, Group C Match, Colombo
Zimbabwe were the first team to exit the ICC World T20 following another abject performance - this time at the hands of South Africa in Hambantota.
After being put into bat by South African captain AB de Villiers, they lost their three big guns - Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor - early and never really recovered, in spite of a determined 37 from Craig Ervine.
Ervine has to be one of only two positives which Zimbabwe can take from this match - the other being their slightly improved fielding from their appalling performance against Sri Lanka - as he looked to rebuild the innings but to no avail.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel had started the Zimbabwe horror show. Steyn found swing and pace, while Morkel was his usual hostile self on a pitch that, as Dale Steyn remarked, closer resembled Durban than any in Sri Lanka. Morkel was first to strike, bowling Vusi Sibanda, and he then induced Brendan Taylor into wafting at a wide one, while Steyn ended Hamilton Maskadza's slightly tortured 17-ball affair when he was on six.
Ervine then attempted to rebuild and was joined, all too briefly, by Stuart Matsikenyeri prior to Jacques Kallis' rout of the middle-order. Kallis trapped Elton Chigumbura plumb LBW immediately after dismissing Matsikenyeri, but Graeme Cremer survived the hat-trick ball. It was, however, to provide only the briefest of respites as Zimbabwe limped to 93 for eight at the end of their 20 overs.
If they were ever going to challange South Africa's batsmen in their run chase, then a plethora of early wickets would be needed. Unfortunately, Kyle Jarvis set the tone with a wayward opening over and the rest was a mere formality. Richard Levi finished unbeaten on 50 off 43 balls - his first score of 50 or more for South Africa since his epic 117 back in February - while Hashim Amla was his customary ice-cool self and ended unbeaten on 32 off 33 balls.
Today's result means that South Africa and Sri Lanka are the first two sides to qualify for the super eight stage, while Zimbabwe must take the 'plane ride home after just three days.
After the game, Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor did not hide his disappointment at his side's shortcomings, but paid tribute to the South African bowlers, while AB de Villiers echoed Dale Steyn's sentiments about the pitch.
"It's the end of the road, they showed how classy a bowling line-up they are," said Taylor. "We are a team that are going to bounce back sharply, we've improved a lot over the last 24 months."
De Villiers said, "Very happy with the start. I back our pace bowlers to do well on this kind of deck. Hopefully its the same for the next game. Richard and Hash started really well. We are definitely prepared for whatever the conditions may be. We've improved a lot facing spin in these conditions, so can't wait to take on what's coming our way."
© Cricket World 2012