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Zimbabwe v South Africa, T20 tri-series, Harare

All-round Zimbabwe down South Africa

The Report by Firdose Moonda

June 20, 2012

Comments: 81 | Text size: A | A

Zimbabwe 176 for 4 (Sibanda 58, Masakadza 55, Parnell 2-33) beat South Africa 147 (Ingram 48, Levi 40, Mpofu 3-20, Cremer3-29) by 29 runs

Vusi Sibanda top scored with 58, Zimbabwe v South Africa, T20 tri-series, Harare, June 20, 2012
Vusi Sibanda top scored for Zimbabwe with 58 © AFP

So-called small-fry teams tend to up to their game when doing battle against their big brothers and Zimbabwe did it in a big way. They turned a series that was expected to be completely dominated by South Africa into a contest, with an unlikely but clinical victory over their neighbours.

Zimbabwe seemed to surprise even themselves with an effort that started with a century stand between Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza, and ended with superb bowling from the senior statesman Chris Mpofu, legspinner Graeme Cremer and new-comer Richard Muzhange. South Africa's attack, as they were yesterday, failed to take early wickets or find the right lengths on a slow surface. Unlike the match against Bangladesh, their batting was also sub-standard. They succumbed in the chase to a bowling pack that understood their own conditions and were able to restrict runs, create pressure and bowl out a line-up that was expected to produce much more.

After allowing Zimbabwe to reach an above-par score, South Africa's batting line-up had a fairly tough task on a pitch that is known to get slower as the day goes on. Senior paceman Chris Mpofu immediately found the right tempo but Kyle Jarvis was unable to do the same from the other side. He bowled too wide of offstump, allowing both Hashim Amla and Richard Levi to find the boundary.

Mpofu made up for Jarvis' early blunders when he removed Amla with a slower ball that was mis-timed to Masakadza at mid-on. He would have had Colin Ingram out as well, but Vusi Sibanda spilled a catch at fine leg.

Ingram went on to make Zimbabwe pay and was South Africa's top-scorer with his 48, an innings that was built on the cut shot. While Levi was with him, South Africa seemed in control. Jarvis fed Levi sumptuous full tosses while Ingram moved his feet well against the spinners. Prosper Utseya put the brakes on their charge when he had Levi caught at deep midwicket by Craig Ervine, as the batsman attempted to clear the rope.

South Africa's middle-order was exposed and they did not cover themselves in glory. Justin Ontong gifted a catch to Utseya in the covers off Cremer, before the googly accounted for both Dane Vilas, who was bowled, and JP Duminy, who was stumped. South Africa teetered at 91 for 5 and it was up to Albie Morkel to haul them back.

He clubbed a six of Cremer's last over but again did not produce the expected fireworks. Muzhange removed Morkel by inviting him to chase a wide and having him caught behind. Robin Peterson and Ingram both skied desperate shots off Mpofu's final over and all that was left for Zimbabwe to do was nip out the tail. Jarvis bowled Tsotsobe to earn some redemption and a memorable victory for his team, which excelled in all disciplines.

With the bat, Masakadza and Sibanda gave Zimbabwe a dream start. Boundaries were not the hallmark of the duo's stand, although when they found them, they found them well. Sibanda signalled their intent when he slog-swept Lonwabo Tsotsobe over backward-square leg at the end of the second over.

The pair ran well between the wickets and did not allow the run-rate to stagnate when South Africa's spinners came on after the Powerplay. Although JP Duminy and Peterson had more success in controlling proceedings, Zimbabwe's rotation of strike ensured they continued to build. Once comfortable, they batsmen even took on the spinners. Sibanda hit Peterson onto the roof of Harare Sports Club while Masakadza brought up his 50 with a meaty blow over long-on off Justin Ontong.

Masakadza was out shortly afterwards as South Africa's first success came in the 14th over. He attempted the slog-sweep but top-edged to deep midwicket. Sibanda was dropped off the first ball of Parnell's second over, when he swung to Richard Levi at long-on, but the mistake was not too costly. After one more pull shot, which went for four, Sibanda swung hard and offered Tsotsobe a catch at third man.

Elton Chigumbura, who was moved up the order to No.3, holed out to the first ball he faced but Zimbabwe rebuilt well. Brendan Taylor withstood a barrage of slower bouncers from Morkel and eventually lashed out. His slog sweep to long-on and would have been caught had Ontong held on, but he palmed it over for six. Taylor launched an assault on Parnell and took 17 runs off the left-armer's third over, which proved a major part of the difference between the two sides.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Comments: 81 
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Posted by Sharky on (June 22, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

It is exciting when an underdog host down a Big Gun like SA. Remember 1983 World Cup opener when Zimbabwe have beaten Australia in a 60 over match. And the 1992 World Cup when Zimbabwe have beaten England in a 50 over match. In the late 90's, after numerous winnings, they've also won a Test Series against Izamam Ul-Haq's Pakistan. And in the 1999 World Cup they've ended 5th in the Super sixes after Niel Johnson has also beaten South Africa in a 50 over match. And Remember 2007 opening match in the T20 World Championship, where Brendan Taylor and the boys has beaten Australia. And this match was another exciting finish. Great game by Zimbabwe.

Posted by Zain on (June 22, 2012, 5:16 GMT)

@_NEUTRAL_Fan: Valid point on the rotation policy, and agreed on that Robin is now considered a regular. Ontong had pretty much being getting 1 games a year until the New Zealand series (a really good run of form in domestic cricket)- so I think its stretching it to call him a regular, he's a form player who is looking to cement his spot in the 'rotating middle order' with Faf, AB, JP . And Levi is a future prospect who has an opening in the T20 squad given Smith's poor form in the shorter format. Anyway, sounds like im digging horribly deep to justify all my points, which probably means I may have gotten a bit defensive and patriotic given the shock loss- cant help it, its human nature :) If SA sort out an opening slot for Amla in the short form (Smith is a great test opener, but has been poor in ODI's), Kallis at 3, AB, Faf, JP at 4-6, M.Morkel, Tsotsoble, Peterson/Botha, Steyn at 7-11...it looks like a team of world beaters.All we need is that no. 7 (Chris Morris?)

Posted by Dre on (June 21, 2012, 22:10 GMT)

@gazzafanatic. Rotation policy=playing regularly. In my opinion, not playing regularly means u get 1 match every 2 yrs or so, that is clearly not the case for Ontong, Robin and Albie. I'm sure they play almost everytime some1 is injured and I'm pretty sure they have played more than just 5 t-20 or ODI's in the past 4 yrs. Are the likes of Smith and co always fit? I don't think so. As for Levi, yes he has just started but let me correct myself, HE doesn't play regularly he is CONSIDERED A REGULAR and will be going to the t-20 WC. He has a world record I believe?

Posted by Benny on (June 21, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

the S.a selectors really frustrate me...we've got immensely talented players like miller rossouw,Elgar,faf, waiting in the wings...yet we persist with Albie who TIME and TIME again fails to perform...bowling terrible lines and lengths...and not being able to construct an innings...clubbing a six and then getting out.When i watch him play for the CSK i see a compelety different Albie to the one in national colors...

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 21, 2012, 16:20 GMT)

@Haleos...lol Bangladesh designed to play 5 over? Well it didn't look like it today but maybe you are maybe worse :)

Posted by Deepak on (June 21, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

@Sehwag_Is_Ordinary - That's the point isn't it? Zimbabwe have improved tremendously in the past few years after so many controversies whereas Bangladesh, despite so much backing from the fans and the board, are lying at the bottom just like they were when they started out in 2000 and will continue to do so. That is the reason why people prefer not to see Bangladesh play. This was far from the best team SA could field. How often do you see SA losing to Zimbabwe? Once in a while. So such losses are considered to be 'upsets'. But when Bangladesh loses to Zimbabwe, its a normal thing which happens more often than not.

Posted by Greg on (June 21, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

@mahjut - Agree :-). Seems like quite a topsy turvy tournament at the moment - everyone beating everyone...

Posted by Rakesh on (June 21, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

@Sehwag_Is_Ordinary - at the same time Bangladesh was ordinary and remains to do so.

Posted by Rakesh on (June 21, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

@Proud__BD_FAN - Who is waiting? The team which is lying at the bottom? Bangladesh bastmen are designed for 5 over cricket. Not T20, ODI and definitely not for tests.

Posted by mahjut on (June 21, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

@gdamsaaregood ... fair enough, except for Faf - surely he's in the same bracket as Ray and Tatenda (which is a compliment for him - he's rather untried)

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