The Proteas completed a simple victory over Zimbabwe in the first ODI, bowling the hosts out for 216, to win by 93 runs after posting 309-3 in the first innings.
Despite none of the South African attack looking particularly dangerous, they did enough to claim victory after Hashim Amla’s century in the first innings set Zimbabwe a target of 310.
Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso took three wickets each, while Wayne Parnell took two, and Ryan McLaren and JP Duminy claimed one each.
Set an imposing total to chase, Zimbabwe got off to a stuttering start, losing their first three wickets within 12 overs. However, Hamilton Masakadza (61) and Sean Williams (51) both scored half-centuries, and posted a 100-run partnership for the fourth wicket, to give Zimbabwe some hope.
But it wasn’t to be as first Masakadza, and then Williams, managed to get out in the same fashion, hitting simple catches to Faf du Plessis at backward point, off Parnell and Tahir respectively. With their removal, the game was all but over, despite there being some 20 overs left to bowl. At that point Zimbabwe were 143-5 in the 30th over, with very little batting to come, and 167 runs still needed.
South Africa weren’t able to take a wicket from overs 30 to 40, but Zimbabwe were still well behind the pace, and once they decided to launch an attack they started to fall. The tail hung around until the last over to keep captain Elton Chigumbura, who made 36, company, but they couldn’t do enough to claw themselves out of the hole, and ended up losing by 93 runs.
South Africa take a 1-0 lead into Tuesday’s fixture, and will be looking for an improved performance from their bowlers, most of whom were guilty of bowling too many loose balls in this game.
South Africa’s innings:
Earlier, Zimbabwe won the toss on a cold morning in Bulawayo and chose to field first. South Africa’s opening pair of Amla and Quinton de Kock started proceedings slowly, scoring just 19 in the first five overs. But once the blood was flowing they upped the rate, with De Kock in particular scoring freely.
He reached his half-century off 42 balls, and looked comfortable on a dry pitch that was playing a little slow. A succession of fours and one six over square leg kept the score ticking over, and De Kock looked set for another big total.
Unfortunately, he perished trying to hit one too many over the inner ring, and was caught at backward point by Brendan Taylor off the bowling of Nyumbu for 63.
Meanwhile, Amla was biding his time at the other end. He was joined by Faf du Plessis and the pair negotiated the middle overs cautiously, choosing to rotate the strike in the face of some tight spin bowling.
Despite only losing the one wicket, the Proteas’ run rate was strangled by the Zimbabweans, and South Africa reached just 189 after 39 overs. However, there was clear intent shown from that point, with Du Plessis scoring 19 off the next over, and the run rate climbing.
Du Plessis became a victim of that desire to score quicker, skying one off Prosper Utseya and getting caught for 59 in the 43rd over, but his job was done. AB de Villiers came out with the score on 232-2, and just under seven overs still to come.
With the platform laid, Amla accelerated to get the Proteas to 309-3 in their 50 overs. In the process, he reached his 15th ODI century off 121 balls, finishing on 122 not out. De Villiers played a solid cameo of 21 from 12 balls before falling with three overs to go, and JP Duminy came out at the end to make 22 not out, from 11 balls.
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