South Africa Composite XI v Zimbabwe XI, Paarl December 22, 2007

Taibu guides Zimbabwe to battling victory

Cricinfo staff

Zimbabwe XI 89 and 246 (Taibu 100, Burger 5-59) beat South Africa Composite XI 186 (Madsen 70, Utseya 5-40) and 98 (Chigumbura 3-55) by 51 runs

Tatenda Taibu's hundred steered a Zimbabwe XI to victory © Getty Images
Zimbabwe received a boost with a 51-run win over a South Africa Composite XI with more than a day and a half to spare at Paarl.

An allround performance from Elton Chigumbura - he made a vital second-innings 49 and then took 5 for 33 in the home side's second innings - and a classy hundred from Tatenda Taibu underpinned the success. In contrast, only two of the South Africans passed 20 in the match. The pitch, which was poor, also played more than a passing role in proceedings.

For almost all the first two days Zimbabwe were on the back foot. Stuck in, they lasted into the mid afternoon in making 89, and 20 minutes from the close the Composite XI were 153 for 5. Zimbabwe struck twice before the close and then polished things off quickly the next morning, only Wayne Madsen with an unbeaten 70 coming to terms with the consitions.

With a deficit of 97, Zimbabwe appeared down and out when they slid to 84 for 5, three wickets tumbling in eight balls at one stage, but then Taibu found support from Keith Dabegwa and, most importantly, Chigumbura in a seventh-wicket stand of 86. taibu was particularly severe on Paul Adams who bowled a negative line outside leg stump in a bid to contain him. He brought up a deserved hundred before edging the next ball to slip. Even so, the Composite XI were left chasing a modest target of 150.

On a surface getting harder by the hour, Chigumbura and Chris Mpofu put the ball on the spot and some poor batting aidED their cause. They became becalmed, and by the close had crawled to 42 for 4 in 22 overs.

The game was decided in the first half hour of the third morning as Chigumbura and Mpofu again took quick wickets as five wickets fell for 28 inside ten overs. Adams and Jandre Coetzee causes a few flutters in a last-wicket stand of 28 before Mpofu returned to mop up Adams.

Zimbabwe did all that was asked of them, but the conditions were disappointing and the South African side was relatively weak. Nevertheless, a win is a win and Zimbabwe will head home for Christmas buoyed by their success.