South African apathy keeps Test alive
Zimbabwe 265 (Streak 85, Blignaut 52) v South Africa 13 for 0 (Smith 3*, de Villers 9*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The opening day at Centurion Park may not have rivalled Cape Town for record breaking but it was only when South Africa were left with two fit bowlers that Zimbabwe looked like competing. Their total of 265 - having been 115 for 7 mid-way through the afternoon session - has to be balanced against the bowling they were facing for large parts of the day.
In the space of half an hour during the afternoon session, three of South Africa's fast bowlers - Andre Nel, Charl Langeveldt and Jacques Kallis - left the field for treatment and Graeme Smith was forced to use himself and Nicky Boje in partnership. At one stage the fitness trainer, Adrian le Roux, was on the field - and, if he could have done, Smith would probably have turned to him. The situation got so desperate that AB de Villers bowled for the first time in his first-class career.
If the attack had remained fit the innings would not have lasted to the tea interval but, faced with part-time bowlers, the Zimbabwean tail wagged. Heath Streak led the charge, making 85 before he inside-edged Jacques Kallis onto his stumps, as enough South African seamers were patched up in time for the second new ball (264 for 9). Streak shared a stand of 76 with Andy Blignaut - who scored his second consecutive fifty, from 48 balls - and 73 with Graeme Cremer.
Blignaut played his usual attacking game, launching Boje into the stands and taking a liking to Smith's gentle off-spin. He fell in the first over after tea when Monde Zondeki, the one fast bowler still standing, slanted one across him (191 for 8). Cremer held up his end for 80 balls, to allow Streak to open his shoulders before the new ball arrived. But he could only have dreamed of being able to face the likes of Jacques Rudolph and de Villers with his side in trouble. Cremer was the last man out, the ball after being struck a painful blow in the ribs from Andre Nel. Kallis was the pick of the attack, adding 4 for 33 to the five wickets he took at Cape Town.
South Africa would have been disappointed to only take four wickets before lunch, but normal service was resumed when three wickets fell on 115. Before Kallis left to get treatment on his right hip, he continued a fine spell of swing bowling, dismissing Dion Ebrahim after a gutsy innings, with an almost identical delivery to the ball that was good enough for Brendan Taylor. Ebrahim had battled away, then he played no shot at a delivery that swung back, but not nearly in the exaggerated fashion of Taylor's dismissal.
Tatenda Taibu played a disappointing shot, cutting Monde Zondeki to backward point, where Herschelle Gibbs knocked the ball up and caught it on the rebound. It was typical of the Zimbabweans; Taibu worked hard but gave away his wicket away. A worse shot followed: Elton Chigumbura - not even off the mark - drove a catch to the sub fielder at mid-off, Northern Titans' Aaron Phangiso, to give Zondeki his second wicket.
Nel broke the opening partnership after moving to around the wicket and testing Barney Rogers with the short ball (15 for 1). Stuart Matsikenyeri fought hard and was roughed up by Zondeki, but was undone by a good piece of swing bowling from Langeveldt. The barrage of short-pitched deliveries forced him further and further back into his crease, and when the ball was fuller he was in no position to play it and edged to Smith, who clung on at the second attempt (22 for 2).
Hamilton Masakadza played a breezy run-a-ball innings but his attacking instincts got the better of him. He tried to cut Zondeki and top-edged towards second slip where Kallis leapt and parried the ball for Smith to collect a simple chance, giving Zondeki his first Test wicket (71 for 3). He had gone wicketless on debut at Headingley against England in 2003.
The public apathy towards this mis-match of a series was highlighted by another non-existent crowd, but at least the few who did bother to attend saw Zimbabwe launch a recovery even if it was against less than half an attack.
How they were out
Rogers c Boucher b Nel 7 (15 for 1)
Gloved a lifter from round the wicket
Matsikenyeri c Smith b Langeveldt 12 (22 for 2)
Edged outswinger to first slip, caught at second attempt
Masakadza c Smith b Zondeki 26 (71 for 3)
Cut shot, parried by second slip, caught by first
Taylor b Kallis 4 (81 for 4)
Played no shot at a huge inswinger
Ebrahim b Kallis 37 (115 for 5)
Another inswinger, another non-shot
Taibu c Gibbs b Zondeki 14 (115 for 6)
Cut to backward point, knocked up and rebound caught
Chigumbura c sub (A Phangiso) b Kallis 0 (115 for 7)
Driven straight to mid-off
Blignaut c Smith b Zondeki 52 (191 for 8)
Edged to first slip, trying to play ball to leg-side
Streak b Kallis 85 (264 for 9)
Inside edge onto stumps
Cremer c Boucher b Nel 12 (265 all out)
Wild swing outside off-stump