Zimbabwe v South Africa, 1st ODI, Bulawayo August 17, 2014

Amla century steers South Africa to big win

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South Africa 309 for 3 (Amla 122*, de Kock 63, Nyumbu 2-52) beat Zimbabwe 216 (Masakadza 61, Phangiso 3-43) by 93 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Hashim Amla has had a golden run of late in one-day cricket © Getty Images

Hashim Amla's 15th ODI hundred, his third against Zimbabwe and his fourth in six matches, led South Africa through a speedy start, sedate middle and ultimately to a sparkling finish, as the visitors took the series lead in Bulawayo.

Amla shared century stands with Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, who both brought up fifties, as South Africa posted a towering 309 which Zimbabwe never realistically looked like reaching.

Although the margin of defeat suggests Zimbabwe's downfall was with the bat, they acquitted themselves fairly well against an attack mostly made up of South Africa's reserves. It was with the ball, however, that they lost the game.

With three rookies in their ranks, Zimbabwe's pack lacked the pace to inject life into a slow wicket, and received no assistance from the healthy cloud covering in the morning. They could also not take proper advantage of the significant spin on offer.

As a result, when the first signs of turn were evident in the 14th over, Zimbabwe had already failed to rein South Africa in. De Kock pounced on anything short and wide to score 42 of the 46 runs during a five-over period in which South Africa's intent to stamp their authority was made clear.

Teenager Luke Jongwe and the spin duo of Prosper Utseya and Williams pulled South Africa back and slowed de Kock down, even though his half-century came off 42 balls. John Nyumbu prevented de Kock from keeping his 100% conversion record when he offered flight and de Kock attempted to clear the offside field but found only Brendan Taylor at backward point.

With de Kock's dismissal, Zimbabwe enforced more of a stranglehold. Amla and Faf du Plessis, batting in the No.3 spot left vacant by Jacques Kallis, managed only 58 runs, without a single boundary in the 14 overs that followed the opening stand . Zimbabwe could have eventually claimed Amla's wicket as a trophy for their efforts, but Shingi Masakadza put him down on 62 in his follow-through.

It took South Africa until the final over of the power-play to reignite their run-scoring flame. Du Plessis took four boundaries off Jongwe, a slap through mid-wicket, a fortuitous edge, a loft over the covers and a drive through them - to push South Africa over the 200-run mark and help himself to a half-century off 69 balls.

With 10 overs left to go, South Africa's launched a final fifth assault which saw them plunder 101 runs to lift their run-rate above six. Amla was the main protagonist after du Plessis mistimed a shot he was aiming to hit over the legside, only to be caught at cover.

Although de Villiers caught the eye with a pair of inventive reverse-slog sixes, Amla was still the one holding the innings together, as he brought up his century and finished off with his own couple of big hits over long-on and sweeper cover.

Nyumbu, Shingi and Jongwe all lacked the control needed to avoid erring on a surface where the margins of mistake were small. Their lines and lengths did not challenge enough, and they were given a lesson in how they should have bowled by Kyle Abbott and Ryan McLaren. Abbott found movement and bounce, but he also kept it tight on off stump or banged it in short and threateningly, while McLaren was equally impeccable in his disciplines.

Abbott went unrewarded, but his stranglehold helped seduce Vusi Sibanda into greeting a teasing line and length with an open-faced edge. McLaren had Richmond Mutumbami caught behind off a short ball, and when Taylor stepped out to chip Aaron Phangiso over cover, he was caught at long-on by David Miller instead. Zimbabwe were 34 for 3 and looked likely to collapse, but Hamilton Masakadza and Sean Williams held the hosts together.

Their fifth-wicket stand began watchfully, but also had its nervous moments, especially when Hamilton edged Imran Tahir into the vacant area at second slip. The batsman, however, grew into confidence with a number of sweeps and cleverly-taken singles. Tahir was Zimbabwe's main target as the spinner struggled to get back into the form he previously had shown, and offered too many full tosses.

Hamilton scored his third consecutive half-century and seemed well set to turn it into something more substantial. He paddled and pulled Parnell in the second over of his second spell, but just as the stand reached 100, he cut one straight to du Plessis at point. Williams was also out immediately after a milestone. He swatted Tahir through mid-off for his fifty but then played almost the same shot Hamilton previously did.

Zimbabwe's middle and lower order clung on through their new captain Elton Chigumbura, but they may only take a sliver of solace from their fight. Chigumbura limped through his innings with what seemed an injured quad and he also did not bowl, casting a question mark over his availability for the rest of the series.

He was the last man out when he hit straight to mid-on to give Phangiso a third wicket. With Tahir picking up as many scalps, the healthy competition South Africa's have for places in their XI will mean as much to them as the win.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • daisy_cutter on August 18, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    Amla has some staggeringly good stats in BOTH forms of the game, yet he always seems to fly under the radar. As if his ODI average of over 56 is not already great, his strike rate is also over 90. And he does this without the benefit of playing most of his games on flat lifeless pitches. He is truly one of the modern day greats.

  • Greatest_Game on August 18, 2014, 0:12 GMT

    @ SaifKhan90 wrote "Amla has managed to score more centuries and reach the milestone 4000 faster than Kohli."

    Amla was the fastest to 2000 by 5 innings, fastest to 3000 by 12 innings (faster than Kohli by 18 innings), fastest to 4000 by 7 innings. He needs 564 to reach 5000, after playing 89 innings. The record is 114 innings. He has 24 innings to make 564 & beat the record. At his recent average be will be there before this tour is over.

    If de Kock had scored 100 today he would have beaten the record to 1000. He needs 37 in his next innings to tie the record, held by another South African, Jonathon Trott!

    Kohli is nowhere near these guys. He is just a sub continent flat track specialist. Watch him get flattened in the ODIs in England, like he was in SA! He can't buy a run on a seaming pitch!

  • Reece_hill on August 17, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    Lot 2 admire about H. Amla. On and off the field he carries himself well. Unlike others, I'm not surprised to see him lead the test team so well. Got all the attributes of a good leader. Zim vs SA vs Aussie. Bring it on mate.

  • MeTalHeD69 on August 17, 2014, 19:03 GMT

    @ Leonard Gordon, with all due respect to Zimbabwe, I would like to see those spinners do the same thing to Australia when they tour. If they take two or three wickets each against them, then I would be less hesitant to call them more than second string. For example, Wayne Parnell is still inconsistent. He has lost games for SA in crucial periods because of his lack of discipline. Tahir is great in the shorter format. Pangiso needs more time in the SA team. But who do you drop when Steyn and Morkel return? You drop the ones closest to being considered second string. I do believe Kyle Abbot did well, though. I am still not convinced Faf is right for ODI cricket. Tests and T20s, yes, but he consumes way too many balls before getting on with it. I would like to see Abbot playing alongside McLaren, Steyn, Morkel and Tahir. I think that would be a deadly bowling attack. The batsmen are fine as they are, minus Faf, though.

  • Arif_Khan_Bangladeshi on August 17, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Deepanjan Datta. Are you sure, the kid is going to be around for the next 5-6 years!! Especially in the test side? Just kidding. Kohli is a good ODI player but he is lucky, India gets to play significant number of matches compared to SA. Even with so few matches, opening the inning and facing the new ball, Amla has managed to score more centuries and reach the milestone 4000 faster than Kohli. AB, Amla and Clarke will most like excel in ODI and test format, but with Kohli's obvious flaws/attitude, there are still some questions, especially in test. Personally, I don't think he is better than tendulker, no matter how much some say. Even Dravid was better than Kohli.

  • dummy4fb on August 17, 2014, 17:59 GMT

    when 2 spinners take 3 wickets each...and the top 7 batsmen all made runs at an amazing rate...then its not entirely true to say SA played with a second string team.....looking at the last 2 years of smith and kallis in the one day side.at their averages and strike rate..we are a much stronger side now..i hope they give piedt and rossouw a chance in the next game

  • Adam_Leban on August 17, 2014, 17:54 GMT

    i had the chance to talk with hash when saffas toured new zealand some years ago. he is a good mate of sonny bill williams so we were chatting about league/rugby. humble fella who not only signed my bat but talked with me as well. very different from jhonty rhodes, who is bit of a plonker.

  • Adam_Leban on August 17, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    saw bit of the match n enjoyed seeing Zimbabwe play against the Saffas. i remember when Zimbabwe toured New Zealand over a decade ago, they were a much stronger team. all the good players have gone now and cricket seems to have died there. good for saffas. hash scoring runs is not surprising. he is a match winner and played a key role in odi and test series victory over da lankans. good player who is going to turn into a great great captain. kia kaha cuz.

  • Cricinfouser on August 17, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    @datta. sensible comment from an indian fan on this site. am i going crazy? i was expecting torrid of angry comments. btw, at the rate amla is scoring his runs, the age gap won't matter. i also doubt if kohli will be able to stay in the indian test team by the team he is 31. same thing has happened to many past indian players who started well but vanished after period of poor form; gautam. wait and see :)

  • dummy4fb on August 17, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    dekock will be in the top ten bastsmen in all 3 formats in the game within 2 years.....i think amla has a lot of fun batting with such youthful talent and exuberance

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