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Match reports

South Africa v Zimbabwe, 1999-2000

At Bloemfontein, October 29, 30, 31, November 1

Neil Manthorp
Neil Manthorp
At Bloemfontein, October 29, 30, 31, November 1. South Africa won by an innings and 13 runs. Toss: South Africa. Test debut: H. H. Dippenaar.
Bloemfontein's Springbok Park became the world's 80th Test venue and South Africa's sixth current Test ground. And with the country's most-capped players, Cronje and Donald, making no secret of their emotions at the prospect of playing a Test in front of their home Free State crowd, Zimbabwe had every reason to feel apprehensive when Cronje opted to field first. The pitch might have enjoyed a reputation for producing large scores in domestic cricket, but it was obvious that Donald was raring to bowl. As it happened, he bowled poorly; his partner Pollock, on the other hand, was outstanding. Perhaps he enjoyed some fortune with the lbw decision that removed Grant Flower in his first over, but his other four victims were outclassed.
At 79 for six, the visitors were in danger of humiliation. Campbell, under increasing pressure for his batting place, let alone the captaincy, had battled gamely for his 27 from 83 deliveries, and the ball with which Pollock dismissed him, climbing steeply and flying off the edge to gully, was simply unplayable. Whittall, however, more than doubled the score off his own bat with a rousing 85 from 114 balls, three of his 14 fours coming in one over as he gave himself room and cracked Donald through the covers.
Even so, Zimbabwe's 192 looked woefully inadequate for a side deprived of two key bowlers in Streak and Paul Strang, and with all-rounder Johnson unfit to bowl more than two tentative overs. Their seamers consigned themselves to bowling wide of the off stump and hoping for mistakes. In the meantime, with eight batsmen and Extras contributing between 20 and 70, South Africa compiled a total of 417 and an intimidating lead of 225. Debutant Boeta Dippenaar and Bacher, opening in place of Gibbs and Kirsten (injured after 53 consecutive Tests - a South African record) gave them a steady start, which Kallis developed with a patient 64. Cronje helped him add 90, in the course of which Cronje leapfrogged over Bruce Mitchell and Kirsten to become South Africa's leading run-maker in Tests, and Rhodes batted pleasantly in top-scoring with 70 until he played around a straight delivery from Olonga.
Zimbabwe's second innings began no better than their first. Kallis, bowling as fast as Donald in Cronje's estimation, did the initial damage with swing and pace, claiming his 50th Test wicket when he had Gripper leg-before, and Pollock again ended a determined Campbell innings with an angry delivery that flew to fourth slip. Kallis beat Andy Flower with speed, and, when Pollock nipped one back to trap Johnson in front, the match seemed all over at 123 for six. However, a change of pace by way of Adams's spin offered the later batsmen something to hit before getting the ball that was too good for them. This gave Whittall the opportunity to record his second half-century of the match, from 91 deliveries with nine boundaries, but nothing could prevent South Africa from winning with a day in hand.
"To win by an innings is always an achievement, even though Zimbabwe had problems with injuries and were under strength," Cronje said afterwards, while Campbell admitted they had been "outplayed and outclassed. It's going to be hard to regroup after this, but that's what we have to do. We must try to learn from defeats like this."
Man of the Match: J. H. Kallis. Attendance: 17,353.