Twenty-one-year-old opening batsman Quinton de Kock smashed 84 off 75 balls to lead the Proteas to victory by seven wickets in the third and final ODI against Zimbabwe.
De Kock dominated South Africa’s knock, scoring half the runs to rack up his second half-century of the series as South Africa claimed a 3-0 sweep in the series.
The Proteas, playing with two debutants in Mthokozisi Shezi and Rilee Rossouw, and without captain AB de Villiers, who was rested for the game, completed their most comprehensive victory of the tour so far.
After Faf du Plessis, who was skipper in De Villiers’ absence, won the toss and chose to bowl first, it was always going to be tough for Zimbabwe to make the game last 100 overs. Their innings was dominated by captain Elton Chigumbura’s knock of 90, who took his time to get in, but took advantage of the batting powerplay to lead Zimbabwe to 165 all out.
At one point it didn’t look like they’d get anywhere near that many runs, as they had collapsed to 119-9 before Chigumbura’s fireworks at the end. Marchant de Lange was the pick of South Africa’s bowlers, taking 3-31, while Wayne Parnell and Shezi both impressed with their tight line and length.
When the Proteas came out to bat, it was all De Kock. He lost his new opening partner, Rossouw, in the first over, after the debutant decided to set off on a suicidal run off the first ball of his international career.
Rossouw was well out as Sean Williams threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end, and the Proteas were 1-1. However, that was the only blip in a comprehensive batting performance from South Africa. Du Plessis, who is thriving at No 3, came in and showed intent from the start, and De Kock followed suit.
Anything loose or short was punished by the pair, and they raced to 74 in the first 12 overs. Du Plessis then fell for 40 to a fast, straight ball from spinner Sean Williams, getting bowled through the gate, but that didn’t slow down De Kock. He continued to pile on the runs, with JP Duminy content to hand him the strike.
De Kock reached his fifty off 62 balls, and South Africa passed 100 in the 20th over. He eventually reached 84, and looked set for an unlikely century, but fell trying to hit another six over midwicket, caught on the boundary, and had to watch the victory from the sidelines.
That came via the bat of Duminy, who hit a six off the second ball of the 28th over, to complete a comprehensive win. He finished not out on 28, while David Miller made 13 in a neat cameo at the end. The Proteas will now take a lot of confidence into the triangular series against the hosts and Australia, which begins next Monday.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images