The nature of the pitch was the centre of attention, after South Africa beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in Sunday’s first ODI at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley.
Proteas captain JP Duminy’s choice to bowl first after winning the toss yielded positive results throughout, as the opposition slipped to a mere 117 all out in 34.1 overs. The hosts later surpassed the modest target with 143 deliveries to spare.
Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi was named Man of the Match on the back of a telling haul of three for 19, while leg-spinner Imran Tahir and fellow seamers Andile Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada snared two wickets each.
The Proteas’ run chase was spearheaded by wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen, whose 44 from as many deliveries proved important after the early departures of trio Dean Elgar, Reeza Hendricks and Christiaan Jonker.
‘The pitch definitely did more than we expected. There was always something for the bowlers, even the spinners. It was a tough chase. A touch fuller length was the way to go and to try to nick them off, so credit to the bowlers to pull it off,’ said Duminy, who is leading the XI in the absence of the injured Faf du Plessis.
‘It was quite different from the usual Kimberley wicket. We couldn’t quite execute all our plans, but all in all [we are] happy with the win.’
Defeated skipper Hamilton Masakadza, too, contemplated the composition of the conditions. Masakadza struck 25 to all-rounder Elton Chigumbura’s 27 – the top scores of the first innings.
‘We were a bit surprised by the pitch. We felt it would do a bit in the morning, but it did more than that. The guys tried to knuckle down, but could not. Another 50 to 60 runs would have been better.
‘The guys started really well with the ball, especially on this pitch. The main thing is to get more runs on the board from here.’
The second ODI will be played in Bloemfontein on Wednesday. Paarl will host the third on Saturday. Three T20Is will follow.