Zimbabwe A v South Africa A, Bulawayo, 3rd day August 14, 2004

South Africa A close in on victory

Wisden Cricinfo staff

South Africa A 307 and 111 for 2 (de Villiers 64*) need 55 more runs to beat Zimbabwe A 186 and 286 (Vermeulen 77, Matsikenyeri 66, Taylor 57, Adams 4-99)

South Africa A were on the verge of a convincing win against Zimbabwe A at Bulawayo. Chasing 166 in the fourth innings, they ended the third day on 111 for 2, just 55 away from the target with one day still left.

The Zimbabweans had begun the day with plenty of hope, as Brendan Taylor and Stuart Matsikenyeri resumed on 126 without loss, having wiped out the first-innings deficit of 121. However, things rapidly went awry for them, with seven wickets going down for the addition of just 49 runs on the third morning. Mark Vermeulen's 77 lifted the total to 286, but by close of play South Africa A were well on course for victory, with Abraham de Villiers (64 not out) anchoring their effort.

The slide began when Charl Willoughby removed both Matsikenyeri (66) and Taylor (57) within the space of two runs. Both batsmen were caught by Zander de Bruyn, who then added to the Zimbabwean woes by trapping Dion Ebrahim in front for a duck, and bowling Tatenda Taibu for 13 (169 for 4).

Paul Adams then got to work on the lower order, getting four of the last six wickets. Vermeulen resisted, adding 64 for the eighth wicket with Tuwanda Muripawa - whose contribution was just 7 - before falling to de Bruyn.

South Africa A began their run-chase with a solid 75-run opening partnership, before Mupariwa dismissed Loots Bosman (32) and de Bruyn (0) in quick succession. However, de Villiers and Ashwell Price steadied the innings, and with Neil McKenzie still follow, South Africa A ended the day well placed to seal the win early on the fourth day.