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Kallis century puts paid to Zimbabwe

South Africa 272 for 5 (Kallis 125*, Hall 56) beat Zimbabwe 226 for 9 (Friend 82) by 46 runs

Jacques Kallis scored a magnificent unbeaten 125, his 10th and highest one-day century, and his second in consecutive days, as South Africa bounced back from defeat in their opening match of the NatWest Series to record a comfortable 46-run victory over Zimbabwe at Canterbury.

Kallis's 107 at The Oval yesterday had been the bedrock of South Africa's effort against England, and he was made to sweat once again as Travis Friend launched Zimbabwe's reply with a confident 82. Zimbabwe eventually ran out of steam, though not before they had confirmed that Thursday's defeat of England was no fluke.

They had been pencilled in as the pre-tournament whipping-boys, but Zimbabwe's array of workaday seamers and tenacious spinners had Kallis and Co. in some bother for the early part of the innings. Both South Africa's openers fell inside the first eight overs, and they had been restricted to 84 for 3 at the halfway mark of the innings.

But Andrew Hall, promoted up the order to give the innings a bit of oomph, responded with a bristling 56 from 51 balls to kickstart the innings, and they never looked back. Zimbabwe's fortunes were summed up by Andy Blignaut, who had yorked Herschelle Gibbs with his fifth ball, but was spanked for 19 in the final over of the innings - which he wasn't even able to complete, after being ordered from the attack for a second (unintentional) beamer.

Kallis, who by then was seeing it like the proverbial football, calmly swatted that second beamer for six over midwicket, but the early part of his innings had been a different story. He was dropped on 21 by Doug Hondo - a tough caught-and-bowled opportunity - and had scored at barely a run every two balls for the early part of his innings. But as his confidence grew he shed the watchful defence and launched into some scintillating strokeplay, particularly through the covers.

Kallis brought up his century in 137 balls, with 10 fours, and then lamped four more fours and that six in his ten remaining deliveries. Hall himself belted three sixes, two in consecutive overs off the left-arm spin of Ray Price, who had nonetheless bowled impressively and gave Jacques Rudolph a thorough working-over before having him caught at backward-point by Grant Flower.

South Africa's final total was considerably more than had looked likely when they limped to 48 for 2 after 15 overs. While Friend was blazing away merrily in Zimbabwe's reply, however, even 272 for 5 appeared insufficient. Runs had been hard to come by at first, with Doug Marillier struggling for three overs before swishing at a full-length ball from Makhaya Ntini and edging a simple catch to Mark Boucher behind the stumps for 3 (3 for 1).

But the introduction of Alan Dawson was Friend's invitation to up the tempo, and he did just that in a rumbustious innings. Never afraid to hit over the top, Friend gave South Africa's captain Graeme Smith the run-a-round with two nine-iron chips over his head at long-off, but he saved his best shot for the spinner Nicky Boje, a soaring six over midwicket.

At the other end, Ebrahim played the anchor role to perfection, adding 109 for the second wicket - a Zimbabwean record against South Africa. He had five fours in his 40, including a couple of elegant cover-drives, when he picked out Smith at short midwicket with a firm clip off Boje (112 for 2).

Friend's new partner was Grant Flower, whose unbeaten 96 had sunk England in the series opener at Trent Bridge. But, just as Zimbabwe were inching back into contention, Friend was bowled by a fine yorker from Andrew Hall and the innings fizzled out. Stuart Matsikenyeri ran himself out after a frenetic innings, and neither Heath Streak nor Blignaut lasted long.

The end was confirmed when Flower picked out a leaping Dawson at leg gully for 27 (178 for 7), although Tatenda Taibu and Hondo did enough to ensure a bonus point for Zimbabwe, which leaves all three teams level on six points after the first round of matches.