Zimbabwe slump to heavy defeat
South Africa 301 for 7 (Smith 50, Bacher 56, Rudolph 50, Gibbs 40, Boucher 49, Utseya 3-40) beat Zimbabwe 136 (Hall 3-29, Ntini 3-42) by 165 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
On a day which will be remembered for the surprise announcement of the impending return to international cricket of Heath Streak, there was nothing at all unexpected about this result: Zimbabwe were hammered by 165 runs in the first one-day international at the Wanderers. A solid team effort propelled South Africa to 301 for 7, and then Makhaya Ntini and Andrew Hall took three wickets apiece as Zimbabwe were washed away for 136.
After they were put in by Tatenda Taibu, Graeme Smith, Adam Bacher and Jacques Rudolph all stroked fifties to set up a solid platform, before some swashbuckling stuff from Mark Boucher (49 off 29 balls) and Ashwell Prince (24 not out off 15) lifted South Africa to their expected 300-plus total.
Smith and Bacher made a steady start to the innings against the youthful opening pair of Tinashe Panyangara and Christopher Mpofu, in front of a paltry crowd, which numbered fewer than 1000 at the start. Smith led from the front, crunching a series of exquisitely timed fours, but as soon as Taibu turned to his spinners he met with success, albeit somewhat unexpectedly: Smith completely missed Stuart Matsikenyeri's first ball, a juicy full-toss, and was trapped lbw. His 16th one-day fifty came from 55 balls and contained nine spanking fours (87 for 1).
Bacher, anxious to impress after his surprise recall, struggled occasionally and finally fell for 56 as he found Hamilton Masakadza at deep midwicket off Prosper Utseya, who was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with 3 for 40.
South Africa were still well set, at 128 for 2, and Rudolph and Herschelle Gibbs cemented their grip on the contest by adding 56 for the third wicket. Gibbs, continuing to relish his new-found freedom down at No. 4, looked to dominate from the off, but the spinners managed to contain him in the early stages. And Rudolph started his innings in patient mode, but then boundaries started to come thick and fast for both batsmen.
Utseya prospered again at a vital time as Rudolph (50) attempted one cheeky shot too many, top-edging to Matsikenyeri at short square leg (184 for 3). And Utseya then struck for a third time, as the dangerous Justin Kemp danced down the wicket and failed to connect - Taibu completed the stumping (197 for 4).
Matsikenyeri and Barney Rogers also bowled well to peg South Africa back but, just as Zimbabwe were tightening the screw, Boucher launched his spectacular assault, crashing four fours and three sixes in his short innings. It took the return of the medium-pacer Elton Chigumbura to remove him, but by this time South Africa were on 276 for 6, and Albie Morkel (16 from six balls) and Prince lifted them beyond 300. Inevitably, it proved to be far too much for Zimbabwe.
The tourists made a disastrous start to their mountainous run-chase, and their batsmen's bid to keep up with the stiff run-rate precipitated a predictably grizzly end.
Rogers was the first to fall, when his attempt to dispatch Hall resulted in Nicky Boje's fine catch heading backwards (4 for 1). Masakadza slapped Ntini back over his head for four, but he was made to pay later in the same over when a leading edge found Rudolph at cover (36 for 2).
Matsikenyeri showed signs of a fight: he cracked two successive fours off Hall - one through mid-on, one through backward point - and collected three more boundaries as he marched to 25. But his stand came to an end when he sent Ntini to Gibbs, and Zimbabwe slipped to 41 for 3. Hall picked up his second wicket soon after, as Brendan Taylor (3) edged to first slip, where Smith took a good low catch to his right (55 for 4).
Zimbabwe were struggling and when Morkel picked up two wickets in one over - Alester Maregwede lbw for 16, and Chigumbura caught by Prince at cover without scoring - the match was all but over (85 for 6).
From there it was just a case of crossing the Is and dotting the Ts. The indomitable Taibu, in fighting mood as ever, top-scored with a rugged 28 - but when he fell to Boje, however, it was all over, including the shouting.
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo.