Monde Zondeki: career-best performance © Getty Images|
Monde Zondeki led South Africa to a convincing victory inside three days at Centurion, and a 2-0 series win, as they finally came to life in this Test. Zondeki manfully carried the injury-hit attack, and was reward with his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket, nine wickets in the match and his best figures in first-class cricket. Like Ashwell Prince, his reward was a place in the squad for next month's Test series in the Caribbean, and in addition he snuck ahead of Prince, who made an unbeaten 139, for the Man-of-the-Match award.
South Africa had to overcome some dogged resistance from Zimbabwe's middle-order, especially Elton Chigumbura who played his shots before gloving an attempted sweep off Nicky Boje (147 for 8). His wicket ensured that there would be no need to return on the fourth day.
Tatenda Taibu had battled the pain of his injured shoulder to stave off the attack for over an hour, and although he was unlucky to be given out caught behind when his bat clipped the pad, his innings summed up Zimbabwe's problems. He defended manfully but was rendered virtually strokeless, and most of the batsmen seemed unable to reach a balance between attack and defence. A notable exception was Hamilton Masakadza, who showed admirable restraint, an impressive technique and, importantly, sound shot selection - it took a perfect outswinger from Zondeki to dismiss him (85 for 6).
Stuart Matsikenyeri loses his middle stump to Zondeki
But better batting line-ups would have been troubled by Zondeki, who worked up a real head of steam, the pace proving too much for the Zimbabwean top-order. Since claiming a wicket with his first ball in ODIs he has gained a reputation for striking early and started the ball rolling by strangling Barney Rogers down the leg-side with his first ball (6 for 1). Stuart Matsikenyeri played all round a straight delivery and lost his middle stump, after being peppered by Andre Nel (18 for 3), while Brendan Taylor has looked out of his depth in both Tests, so it was no surprise when he was trapped lbw, missing a straight ball (29 for 4).
Nel got into the act with the last ball before lunch, producing a beauty that Dion Ebrahim could only edge to Smith at slip, who grabbed the chance at the second attempt, after parrying it off his chest (13 for 2) He should have struck a ball earlier, but Smith made a mess of the chance offered by Matsikenyeri, and was still cursing himself when the next edge flew his way.
After two days of relative slumber, South Africa had shown their intent from the start. Prince took up where he left off yesterday evening, adding to his maiden Test century - again playing impressively through the off side. However, it was Nicky Boje who really cut loose and had a maiden century in sight when he was deceived by a top-spinner from Graeme Cremer (480 for 7). They added 100 runs in just 18.5 overs to allow Smith to give his bowlers a crack at the Zimbabweans before lunch.
The thought had been that South Africa would bat on into the afternoon, to give their injury-hit attack as many runs as possible. But Smith was keen to get this game done and dusted so his charges can rest before the tour to the West Indies. Though Zimbabwe fought hard, this has still been a drubbing and, commenting after the game, David Houghton, the former Zimbabwe captain and one of their harshest critics, said that it does nothing to enhance their credibility as a Test nation.
How they were out
Boje b Cremer 82 (480 for 7)
Beaten in flight, played for non-existent turn
How they were out
Rogers c Boucher b Zondeki 0 (6 for 1)
Edge down the leg-side
Ebrahim c Smith b Nel 1 (13 for 2)
Fended to first slip, held at second attempt
Matsikenyeri b Zondeki 5 (18 for 3)
Played around a straight ball, lost middle stump
Taylor lbw b Zondeki 6 (29 for 4)
Ball held its line, beat bat, clipping top of stumps
Taibu c Boucher b Zondeki 13 (76 for 5)
Unlucky, bat hit pad not ball
Masakadza c Boucher b Zondeki (85 for 6)
Streak c Gibbs b Kallis 16 (143 for 7)
Ball bounced and swung, fended to second slip
Chigumbura c Boucher b Boje 44 (147 for 8)
Attempted sweep, ball ballooned off arm and back of bat
Blignaut c Boucher b Kallis 0 (149 for 9)
Limp shot outside off stump
Cremer c Boucher b Zondeki 0 (149 all out)