South Africa v Zimbabwe, 1st T20I, Bloemfontein

Smith fifty leads South Africa rout

The Report by Sahil Dutta

October 8, 2010

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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 started strongly on a flat pitch at Newlands, South Africa v England, 3rd ODI, Cape Town, November 27, 2009
Graeme Smith may not have been captain of the side but his powerful fifty led South Africa to victory © Getty Images

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.

Innings Dot balls 4s 6s Powerplay Last 5 overs NB/Wides
Zimbabwe 54 16 6 30/1 55/2 0/3
South Africa 32 18 8 78/0 14/0 0/1

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Sahil Dutta Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.
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