Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa seamer Dale Steyn smashed a career-best 60 and took two wickets, while spinner Imran Tahir claimed a hat-trick en route to taking six wickets as the Proteas demolished Zimbabwe by 120 runs in the second ODI in Bloemfontein.
South Africa’s victory also handed them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Opting to bat first, South Africa were dealt a big blow on the eighth ball of the match as opener Dean Elgar was caught behind off the bowling of Tendai Chatara for four runs.
Reeza Hendricks only scored one run before he was clean bowled by Kyle Jarvis.
Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram fell shortly after, but Khaya Zondo and Christiaan Jonker temporarily halted Zimbabwe’s charge with a 36-run partnership.
Jonker ended up making a 19-ball 25 before he was cleaned by up Brandon Mavuta, who had Zondo stumped for 21 in his next over.
South Africa stand-in captain JP Duminy only scored five runs, but Andile Phehlukwayo and Steyn, who was playing in his first ODI since October 2016, gave the Proteas a boost with their 75-run partnership.
Phehlukwayo went on to score 28 before he was caught behind off the bowling of Chatara.
Even though Tahir fell for one run, Steyn continued to fight and ended up scoring an 85-ball 60, which included eight boundaries and a six, before he was clean bowled by Donald Tiripano.
Steyn’s heroics with the bat helped South Africa reach 198 before they were bowled out.
Chatara was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Jarvis, Tiripano and Mavuta snapped up two wickets apiece. As for Sean Williams, he chipped in with one.
Chasing 199 to win, Zimbabwe made a horrible start to their innings as opener Solomon Mire was given out lbw off the bowling of Steyn for two runs.
Steyn then proceeded to remove Craig Ervine for three runs.
Tahir took over from that point, starting by trapping Brendan Taylor lbw for 10 runs.
Lungi Ngidi also joined the party as he sent Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza, who opened the batting with Mire, packing for 27.
Tahir then took out Williams for nine runs before removing Elton Chigumbura, Peter Moor and Mavuta to claim a hat-trick.
He completed his six-wicket haul by dismissing Jarvis and Chatara for one and three runs respectively.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Upon Chatara’s dismissal, Zimbabwe were skittled out for 78, their ninth-lowest ODI score and their worst against South Africa.
Tahir was the most successful bowler with six wickets, while Steyn took two, and Ngidi and Phehlukwayo claimed one wicket each.
Masakadza was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “We controlled such a large part of the first half and it’s disappointing how it went in the end. The guys bowled really well up front, but we just couldn’t close it off. Definitely need more application with the bat. We lost a couple when it was going up and down and then it eased out. Disappointing that we lost so many wickets to spin on a pitch like this. We always felt we were in the game, chasing 200, plenty of experience. We just needed a couple of partnerships.”
Duminy was thrilled to have won, and said: “Pitch certainly wasn’t ideal. It’s not the pitch we’ve come to know here. But from the position we were in to get 198 was good, seeing Dale apply himself the way he did. If you look at the surfaces we’ve had, it’s been tough for the batsmen to grab the opportunities. But again, it’s a chance to play for the national team and there’s one more chance. It’s really good signs for us, the way the bowlers are doing heading into this summer.
“We’re hoping that the wicket in Paarl [will be good] where quite a few runs will be scored and good opportunities will be presented and hopefully the guys will take them.”
Steyn was named Man of the Match, and said: “Any time it’s quite difficult and the wicket was quite tough. But the opening bowlers bowled out and myself and Andi batted it out in five-over spells. The thing is I’ve been playing cricket, which is nice. In the past I’ve come into series from the winter, but I’ve been playing recently and I feel cricket fit.
“There was a nice breeze behind me, there was pace in the wicket. The wicket was a little up and down and there is always help. Tough for the batters. I thought Zimbabwe bowled really well.”