Debutant off-spinner Dane Piedt took four wickets for the Proteas on day one of their Test against Zimbabwe, while Brendan Taylor scored 93 to frustrate the visitors.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, many expected Zimbabwe to fold before tea on the first day in Harare. Instead, thanks to a fighting innings from their skipper, the hosts batted the day out, ending on 248-9 from 89 overs.
Taylor’s 93 dominated the innings for Zimbabwe, with the only other score of consequence being Hamilton Masakadza’s 45. Taylor was fluent in his 159-ball knock, attacking all of the bowlers who came his way, and frustrating a Proteas side who had clearly not expected to meet this level of resistance. Taylor eventually fell to Piedt an hour before the close, caught by JP Duminy on the midwicket boundary after attempting one big shot too many.
Piedt was the story of the day for South Africa. While fast bowler Dale Steyn yielded better figures (4-45), Piedt’s four-for on debut was a promising beginning for the 24-year-old. After being told he was going to debut yesterday, Piedt couldn’t have asked for a better start in Test cricket. He ended with figures of 4-90, sending down 24 overs in the day.
The other talking point from day one was the performance of the umpires. The DRS system is not being utilised in this test due to its high cost, and its absence exposed the standing umpires.
Four of the decisions on the day were questionable – two lbws and two caught behinds. Steyn benefited from three of those, with the ninth wicket, Chatara’s caught behind, a complete shocker. The ball from Steyn was a beauty, but it managed to miss everything on its way through to the keeper. Zimbabwe will wonder what may have been if not for the four errors.
The Proteas will have to come out to bowl again on day two, to claim Zimbabwe’s final wicket, a frustrating proposition. They will want to take that last stick as quickly as possible and then bat out the entire day without losing too many, in order to put their stamp on a Test which has not gone as they would have hoped so far.