South Africa put Zimbabwe to the sword at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Sunday, hammering an awesome 363 for the loss of just three wickets against a helpless Zimbabwean bowling line-up, before going on to win the match by 153 runs.
It was an adequate reflection of excellent batting and an incompetent Zimbabwean performance at the bowling crease - 15 wides and 7 no-balls also tell their story - and the match as a contest was over very early on.
Once again Zimbabwe were let down by undisciplined bowling, especially by Travis Friend, who conceded 47 runs in his opening spell of four overs. Gary Kirsten began the slaughter with cuts for four off Friend's first two deliveries, then Herschelle Gibbs took him apart, including a remarkable front-foot six over backward point. Once more Zimbabwe's selectors seemed to have made their choices with little appreciation of the virtues of accuracy. Heath Streak also failed to threaten the batsmen or keep the score down, and the hundred came up in only the tenth over.
Gibbs reached his fifty off 30 balls, and it took leg-spinner Paul Strang to exercise some sort of control. Replays showed he might have been unlucky not to win an lbw appeal against Kirsten when the latter was on 47, just before he ran to his fifty off 41 balls, but the umpire had no hesitation later when Kirsten had 66 and was struck in front of the stumps attempting a sweep. South Africa were 153 for one in the 19th over.
The slower bowlers, helped by additional boundary fielders, made South Africa work harder for their runs, but Gibbs' century still came off 84 balls, South Africa's fastest in one-day cricket. Streak returned for the 36th over and claimed Gibbs lbw for 125, rather controversially as he was well forward and was perhaps hit outside the line of off stump; 244 for two.
The coming of Jonty Rhodes as usual led to superb running between wickets with Jacques Kallis, and at one stage he reverse-swept Grant Flower for six. The score was by now past 300; 313 was the previous highest total against Zimbabwe and 328 the highest by South Africa in one-day internationals.
Kallis on 83 was caught by Andy Flower driving at Friend to be dismissed for the first time on tour. Rhodes reached fifty off 37 balls, finishing on 54, and South Africa finished with the incredible total of 363 for three wickets.
Zimbabwe quickly lost Dion Ebrahim (0), dabbing a catch to slip off Andre Nel. Hamilton Masakadza (11), on his debut, played safely for a while with Alistair Campbell, although scoring at nowhere near the required rate, until Campbell refused a call for a risky single to mid-off and Masakadza was run out; Zimbabwe were 43 for two on the 14th over.
Andy Flower came in at number four and as usual started collecting runs apparently with time to spare, at better than a run a ball. The incredulous South Africans in the press box nominated a six off Makhaya Ntini high over wide long-off as the shot of the day, even ahead of Gibbs' six over backward point. With 34 off 32 balls, though, he risked a single too close to Rhodes on the off side and was thrown out by several yards at the bowler's end; Zimbabwe 97 for three in the 24th over.
Campbell batted well for 81 but then misread a slower delivery to give Shaun Pollock the simplest of return catches. Craig Wishart scored 45 before being brilliantly caught by Klusener running back from slip as he top-edged a sweep at Claude Henderson, but by now Zimbabwe were treating it as mere batting practice. Grant Flower (22 not out) and Guy Whittall (5 not out) were content to stay there and the match finished with a whimper; Zimbabwe 210 for five.