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South Africa take Harare Test despite Flower's heroics

Andy Flower became only the second batsman in Test history, after Jimmy Sinclair of South Africa against England in 1898/99, to score more than half his team's entire run aggregate in both innings of a Test match when his side was bowled out twice. However, so little support did he receive from the majority of his team-mates that not even his Herculean efforts could prevent South Africa from gaining a victory over Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club by nine wickets.

Zimbabwe began the final day still 10 runs short of forcing South Africa to bat again, and with three wickets in hand, one of which was the priceless wicket of Flower. It took 25 minutes to wipe out the deficit, when Flower swept Claude Henderson for the first boundary of the day to take Zimbabwe into credit. A similar stroke later in the over took him past 150. Then Travis Friend's gallant vigil came to an end as he played inside a ball from Lance Klusener that didn't turn, to be bowled for 17; 326 for eight.

Flower passed the 156 that he scored in Zimbabwe's first-ever Test victory, over Pakistan in 1994/95, his previous highest score on this ground, and reached 300 in a Test for the first time. He now became the highest scorer in a Test against South Africa, beating the 299 by Don Bradman in 1931/32. He lost Raymond Price for 4, caught off bat and pad from the slow off-cutters of Klusener; 344 for nine. Klusener at this stage of the match was in fact the only bowler to cause Flower any trouble, beating the bat several times and forcing him to play with care.

Shaun Pollock took the second new ball and immediately Flower opened out, driving the first two balls to the boundary. While Douglas Hondo gallantly blocked about two balls an over, Flower lashed at anything loose, reaching 193 with a six over square leg off Jacques Kallis. On 198 he was forced to play out a maiden over from Pollock, which included an lbw appeal that he was perhaps fortunate to survive.

With the first ball after lunch, bowled by Andre Nel, Flower was dropped high at slip. Later in the over he took a single, only for umpire Tiffin to answer positively an lbw appeal against Hondo (6), which, if not dubious, was certainly not straight-forward. Flower thus fell just one run short of becoming only the seventh player in Test history to score a single and a double century in the same match, and the first to be stranded on 199 not out. He batted for a total of 879 minutes in the match.

South Africa needed 78 to win, and were immediately rocked by the dismissal to the first ball of the innings by Boeta Dippenaar, trapped lbw by an off-cutter from Travis Friend. Herschelle Gibbs, suffering from a back spasm, did not field during the morning or open the batting. Alistair Campbell took over the wicket-keeping gloves to rest Flower after his monumental efforts with the bat.

Friend again lacked accuracy, a failing that Kirsten exploited with relish early on, and then Kallis hit him for four boundaries in a row. Scoring at five runs an over, South Africa won forty minutes before tea with 33.4 overs in hand. Despite superb batting from Kirsten, Kallis and Gibbs, there could only be one choice as Man of the Match, notwithstanding the result.