Smith fifty leads South Africa rout
South Africa 169 for 3 (Smith 52, Miller 36*) beat Zimbabwe 168 for 4 (Masakadza 72, Chibhabha 52, Parnell 2-29)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Graeme Smith's rapid half-century helped South Africa make light work of the 169 they had been set by a promising batting performance from Zimbabwe at Bloemfontein.
Smith butchered 58 from 29 balls and received able support from Loots Bosman, JP Duminy and David Miller as South Africa rushed to an easy victory. He stepped down as South Africa's Twenty20 captain to give himself a breather in the hectic international schedule but he came to the fore to spare his successor, Johan Botha, any embarrassment after a shoddy fielding display from South Africa gave Zimbabwe hope at the half-way stage.
While Zimbabwe's batsmen, led by fifties from Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha, may have shown the optimism surrounding the side is not entirely misplaced, the bowlers - shorn of the services of fiery left-arm spinner Ray Price - were not up to international standard.
Though Bosman was under some pressure after making 8, 0, 7, and 0 in his last four innings he responded by smiting 33 in 16 deliveries to leave Zimbabwe's new-ball bowlers reeling. Any time he found the ball in his half he cleanly dispatched it, with a pair of sixes off Ed Rainsford ending up in the stands over cover.
Smith, meanwhile, had been almost anonymous in the field, but was back into the thick of the action with the bat. He punished the gentle new-ball offerings with his customary clubbing into the leg side and greeted the part-time medium pace of Masakadza with utter disdain on his way to a 26-ball fifty.
By the time he was out, missing a sweep off Graeme Cremer to be trapped on the back pad, South Africa were coasting at 95 for 2 off 7.3 overs but they were given a slight scare as debutant Colin Ingram fell soon after.
David Miller and JP Duminy ensured no slip ups though, as they followed in Smith's aggressive vein. The 21-year-old Miller impressed on his Twenty20 debut against West Indies earlier this year and he again showcased his ability to see his side home. One over from Cremer was taken for 18 as he used his quick feet and power to punish the legspinner. Duminy finished the job in style, smashing a four and a six off the hapless Prosper Utseya as South Africa cantered to victory with 25 balls to spare.
The rout masked a lethargic fielding effort from South Africa. Catches were put down and the ground fielding was clumsy as they responded poorly to the pressure placed on them from Zimbabwe's lively line-up. Coming into the game all the talk was of the return of 39-year-old Grant Flower after a six-year hiatus but it was Zimbabwe's young batsmen who impressed as Flower was left marooned at home, unable to leave the country due to a problem with his visa.
Flower, who is also the team's batting coach, would have been impressed with what he saw as Chibhabha broke the record for the quickest Twenty20 international fifty by a Zimbabwean, reaching the landmark off 29 balls, while Masakadza anchored the innings before finishing with a flourish to end on 72 off 63 balls.
After a slow start in which South Africa's new-ball bowlers impressed, Zimbabwe used the injury to Morne Morkel, who limped off the field after twisting his ankle, to their advantage and added 102 in the final ten overs. Though it looked like carrying the tourists to a good total, Smith's onslaught ensured it wasn't nearly enough.
Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo