South Africa Too Strong For Zimbabwe In T20 Opener
South Africa 169-3 (Smith 58, Miller 36no) beat
Zimbabwe 168-4 (Masakadza 72, Chibhaba 52) by seven wickets
First Twenty20 International, Bloemfontein
The first ever Twenty20 International between South Africa and Zimbabwe went the way of the home side, who prevailed by seven wickets in a high-scoring match at Bloemfontein.
Batting first, Zimbabwe accelerated throughout their innings to reach a perfectly respectable 168 for four but after South Africa blazed away quickly in reply, the total proved to be well short and the Proteas raced home with four overs and one ball to spare to start their summer off in style.
Hamilton Masakadza led the way for Zimbabwe, opening the batting and going on to score 72 in 63 balls with seven fours and two sixes as he and his fellow batsmen took advantage of an early ankle injury to Morne Morkel that meant he could only bowl two overs and then a series of missed opportunities in the field by the normally excellent South Africans.
Chamu Chibhaba was dropped twice and should have been run out early in his innings and he went on to make a fluent, but chancy, 52 in 31 balls, hitting six fours and two sixes to add 76 with Masakadza for the second wicket.
Brendon Taylor failed to contribute a run to a 20-run opening partnership before he was trapped in front by a Wayne Parnell slower ball and it needed Parnell's return to remove Chibhaba when a short ball got big on him and he was caught by Johan Botha. Parnell, making his first international appearance since February, was easily the pick of the bowlers and returned two for 29 from his four overs.
Juan Theron, on debut, then removed Elton Chigumbura who was bowled playing across the line for ten and after Masakadza was run out by the other debutant, Colin Ingram, some lusty blows from Charles Coventry and Keith Dabengwa, both unbeaten on 12, helped Zimbabwe reach the halfway stage in good shape.
However, their situation looked far less clever following the assault that Graeme Smith (58 in 29 balls) and Loots Bosman (33 in 15) then unleashed as the South Africans wasted no time in asserting themselves on the match.
Bosman launched Masakadza for two huge sixes down the ground while Smith's driving, both straight and through the covers, was exemplary as he raced to a 26-ball half-century, just one ball shy of AB de Villiers' national record.
The pair put on 90 runs in seven entertaining overs before Bosman failed to clear the ropes straight down the ground and was caught by Taylor off the bowling of Utseya.
Smith followed soon after when he was trapped in front trying a slog-sweep, a shot that had until then served him well, to a straight ball delivered by Graeme Cremer and South Africa lost their third wicket when Ingram (3) flicked Utseya into the hands of Masakadza.
However, despite losing three wickets for nine runs, a young South African batting line-up kept their heads and JP Duminy, along with David Miller, marshalled them home with plenty to spare.
He stroked an unbeaten 35 in 22 balls while the 21-year-old Miller was unbeaten on 36 in 24 deliveries.
The second and final match is in Kimberley on Sunday, 10th October.
© Cricket World 2010