South Africa qualified for the final of the Triangular series by beating Zimbabwe by 63 runs on the back of another Faf du Plessis century in Harare on Thursday.
The hosts faced a daunting task when they walked out for the second innings. They would have to chase the target of 272 in 25.2 overs to achieve the bonus point, and improve their net run rate sufficiently, to claim a spot in the final against Australia on Saturday.
Zimbabwe started relatively confidently, but lost their first wicket when Vusi Sibanda was run out in the seventh over with a score of 31. Batsmen in the top-order continued to fall after getting starts. Sikandar Raza picked out the boundary rider while on 29 and Hamilton Masakadza spooned a delivery to cover after reaching 26.
JP Duminy’s first scalp saw the back of Sean Williams for 3 and reduced Zimbabwe to 85-4 in the 20th over. Zimbabwe limped to 101-4 after 25.2 overs, ensuring South Africa qualified for the final.
Brendan Taylor fought hard and brought up his 50 off 71 balls, but it was a lone hand. He was eventually bowled by Duminy for 76 as Zimbabwe were dismissed for 208 in the 48th over.
Truthfully, the hosts weren’t in the match for much of the chase and their challenge petered out to hand South Africa a 63-run victory. The Proteas will take on Australia in the final in Harare on Saturday.
South Africa’s innings
Earlier, the Proteas got off to the worst possible start, after being inserted, as Quinton de Kock was strangled down the leg side for 2 off the fourth ball of the innings. It could have been worse, as Hashim Amla was dropped at short cover, trying to drive on the up, while on 4. The hosts eventually got their man when Amla lofted another drive straight to mid-off, where he was caught for 14.
The wicket saw Rilee Rossouw come to the wicket in the eighth over, still in search of his first ODI run, with the scoreboard reading 26-2. He confidently defended his first delivery before beautifully driving the second to the cover boundary to get him up and running in international cricket.
Rossouw and Faf du Plessis consolidated the innings, taking South Africa to 82-2 at drinks. The left-hander’s first scoring innings ended shortly after the interval on 36 when Sean Williams got one to turn viciously from outside off, clattering into the stumps. It ended a 70-run partnership and left SA on 96-3 in the 21st over.
AB de Villiers looked good for his 16 before he was run out in a peculiar manner. Du Plessis played a straight drive, which deflected off the bowler and into the non-striker’s stumps. The Proteas were 120-4 and in danger of collapsing when Duminy came to the crease.
The two formed a solid partnership, safely negotiating the powerplay and taking the score to 178-4 after 40 overs. Du Plessis struggled with cramp and needed some attention after 45 overs, but he soldiered on and brought up his his hundred off 135 balls.
At the other end, Duminy registered his fifty before being caught while trying to clear the boundary. Du Plessis followed him back to the hut for a 140-ball 121. After hitting consecutive sixes, one skewed off the bat and he was caught in the ring.
David Miller and Wayne Parnell saw out the overs, each scoring 10. Their efforts took South Africa to 271-6 after 50 overs.
Report compiled by Gareth Stevens.