At Harare, September 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. South Africa won by nine wickets. Toss: South Africa. Test debuts: D. T. Hondo; C. W. Henderson, A. Nel.
Given first use of a beautiful pitch against a weak attack, South Africa's batsmen gorged themselves, with the top three all completing big hundreds. They virtually ensured victory, but the match will be remembered for the exploits of Andy Flower, who batted for 879 minutes in all and scored 341 runs, which was the record for a player on a losing side in a Test until it was surpassed by Brian Lara .
Kirsten and Gibbs got South Africa off to a flier, scoring 142 by lunch. Gibbs was the main aggressor, reaching a slightly chancy century in 118 balls with 86 runs in boundaries. The bowlers helped by straying frequently in line and length, and the fielding was well below standard. South Africa's opening partnership was just short of their all-time record, 260 by Bruce Mitchell and Jack Siedle against England in 1930-31, when Gibbs, uncharacteristically trying to nudge a ball to third man in preference to one of his flashing pulls or cover drives, edged it on to his stumps.
Kirsten, less spectacular, completed his set of hundreds against each of the eight Test countries he had faced. He survived two hard chances, while one that was taken, when Kallis edged to the keeper, was rejected by umpire Tiffin. The day ended with the visitors on 414. By then, Kirsten had become the first batsman to score 5,000 Test runs for South Africa, just before reaching his third Test double-century.
Zimbabwe's bowling and fielding improved next day; their luck did not. After seven hours and 22 minutes, 286 balls, 33 fours and a six, Kirsten edged the erratic debutant Doug Hondo to the keeper. But Kallis accumulated runs like an automaton and McKenzie had an intriguing battle with Price, who found some spin. Pollock surprisingly declared at 600 for three - in sight of South Africa's record of 622 for nine, against Australia in 1969-70 - and no doubt expected to win by an innings. He would have done but for Andy Flower.
Campbell senselessly hooked at Nel's fourth ball in Test cricket, but Ebrahim showed no fear of Pollock and scored a fine 71 before making a gift of his wicket. After that, it was Flower all the way, a giant among pygmies. His tenth Test century came, as so often, with all about him falling. On the way, he passed 4,000 Test runs; no one else had yet reached 3,000 for Zimbabwe. Apart from Ebrahim, only Friend supported him, in a valuable ninth-wicket stand of 75, before Flower was last out, adjudged lbw despite being hit outside off while playing a stroke.
Three quick wickets in the follow-on meant he was soon in again. This time, Flower found the 18-year-old Masakadza able and willing to put his head down. They added 186, and Masakadza failed by only 15 runs to join the elite few with centuries in both their first two Tests. Shortly afterwards, Flower became the first wicket-keeper to make two hundreds in the same Test, and he would surely have turned this one into a double had he not run out of partners. His haste, with last man Hondo in, might have seen him given out lbw on 198, but Hondo himself departed to a less convincing appeal, leaving Flower stranded on 199 after batting ten minutes short of ten hours. He was only the second player, after South Africa's Jimmy Sinclair against England in 1898-99, to score more than half his team's aggregate over two innings in a Test.
After that effort, which took him to the top of the PwC ratings, Flower passed the keeper's gloves to Campbell for South Africa's second innings. Friend trapped Dippenaar lbw first ball before Kirsten and Kallis romped home.
Man of the Match: A. Flower.
Close of play: First day, South Africa 414-1 (Kirsten 202, Kallis 56); Second day, Zimbabwe 143-4 (A. Flower 54, Price 0); Third day, Zimbabwe 97-3 (Masakadza 37, A. Flower 43); Fourth day, Zimbabwe 304-7 (A. Flower 138, Friend 10).