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Best of the ODIs: South Africa vs Zimbabwe


South_Africa_Zimbabwe_ODI_T20I_CricketStriving to improve a disappointing year, Zimbabwe are in the midst of a short tour of South Africa, featuring three ODIs and three T20Is. Needless to say, the Chevrons started as clear underdogs against the Proteas – in 40 ODIs (including the first two of the ongoing series) between the two teams since they first met at the 1992 World Cup, South Africa have won 37 times and lost only twice. Here is a look back at five notable ODIs featuring the African neighbours.

Fifth ODI, Standard Bank International Series, Johannesburg, 1996-97

Despite South Africa’s relative strength, the Zimbabweans were not to be taken lightly in this tri-series that also involved India, as they had blanked England 3-0 less than a month earlier. Led by Alastair Campbell, they slid to 6/2 and then to 61/4 after electing to bat, with pace ace Allan Donald (4/46) starring for South Africa. Opener Grant Flower (62) and veteran Dave Houghton (57) revived the innings with a fifth-wicket stand worth 93, before both fell in quick succession.

Guy Whittall (41) and Paul Strang (40*) kept the fight going, adding 63 for the seventh wicket to take the total to 256/8. Fast bowler Eddo Brandes (3/45) gave Zimbabwe a dream start, reducing the score to 16/3. South Africa partially recovered to reach 102/5, at which point captain Hansie Cronje and Shaun Pollock got together and turned the tables with a stand of 137. While Pollock was out for 75, Cronje remained on 70* to see his side to a four-wicket victory with 11 balls left.

World Cup Group Stage, Chelmsford, 1999

Zimbabwe, who had beaten India earlier in the tournament, qualified for the Super Six stage of the 1999 World Cup with a memorable maiden win over South Africa in their last group game, a result that eliminated hosts England. Openers Neil Johnson and Grant Flower provided a sound base after Campbell called correctly at the toss, sharing a 65-run stand within 14 overs. Johnson, who was the more dominant partner, also added 66 with Murray Goodwin for the second wicket.

Johnson motored to a solid 76 before being dismissed by Donald to make the score 170/3 in the 39th over. Donald (3/41) pegged Zimbabwe back with two more wickets, ensuring that the total was limited to 233/6. Not content with his batting effort, Johnson also played a stellar role with the ball, producing an incisive spell to derail the chase. He had Gary Kirsten caught by Andy Whittall off the first ball of the reply, setting the tone for an incredible South African implosion.

South Africa soon crumbled from 24/1 to 25/4, with Johnson (3/27) netting Jacques Kallis as his second victim. Nine runs later, Johnson added the scalp of captain Cronje, shortly after which Heath Streak (3/35) sent Jonty Rhodes back. South Africa were now reeling at 40/6 in the 12th over. Pollock (52) and Lance Klusener (52*) attempted a rearguard action, but the damage was done. The innings ended at 185 in the 48th over, when Donald fell to Henry Olonga.

Sixth ODI, Standard Bank International Series, Durban, 1999-00

Eight months after slaying South Africa at the World Cup, Zimbabwe did it again, this time in a tri-series encounter at Kingsmead (England were the third side in the competition). South Africa endured a slump following an opening partnership of 40 between Gibbs and Louis Koen, and stuttered to 112/6 against Zimbabwe’s pace attack. Redemption came through Kallis (52) and Klusener (65*), who shared in a seventh-wicket stand of 82 that helped carry the total to 222/7.

Zimbabwe lost Grant Flower for a duck early, but Johnson raced to a brisk 35. The dismissal of Craig Wishart made the score 57/2, and eight runs later, Kallis accounted for Johnson to bring the Proteas back in the contest. The hosts continued to build the pressure, and by the 29th over, Zimbabwe were struggling at 107/6. However, like South Africa, Zimbabwe too were rescued by a meaty seventh-wicket partnership, the architects being skipper Andy Flower and Guy Whittall.

The pair assuredly put on 91, and when Flower was out to Henry Williams (3/38) for 59, Zimbabwe required 25 runs from four overs with three wickets in hand. Whittall seemed set to stay till the end, but he was run out by a direct hit from Gibbs in the 49th over. The target was now ten runs from nine balls, which was whittled down to four from the last over, bowled by Kallis. With one to win off the last ball, Streak stole a single to seal Zimbabwe’s two-wicket win.

Third ODI, Harare, 2007

South Africa had secured the three-match series with wins in the first two ODIs. Their opening pair of captain Graeme Smith and Gulam Bodi perished with 69 runs on the board, but this set the stage for a match-winning third-wicket stand of 186 between Albie Morkel, who scored a career-best 97, and AB de Villiers, who cruised to 107 from just 89 balls. Thereafter, the search for quick runs also led to a steady fall of wickets, and the innings closed at an impressive 323/9.

Vusi Sibanda (41) and Hamilton Masakadza (48) began with intent, building an opening stand that fetched 76 in good time. Brendan Taylor (42) and Tatenda Taibu continued the good work by adding 109 for the third wicket, and at 210/2 in the 37th over, Zimbabwe were very much alive in the game. However, Taylor’s wicket led to a middle-order wobble, and with the required rate rising, South Africa closed in. Taibu struck an unbeaten 107, but Zimbabwe fell short, ending at 295/7.

World Cup Group Stage, Hamilton, 2014-15

This was the first game of the 2015 World Cup for both teams. Zimbabwe’s seamers dented the South African top order, before leg-spinner Tafadzwa Kamungozi pouched the prized wicket of captain de Villiers, who was caught excellently by Craig Ervine at long-off, to leave the score at a shaky 83/4 in the 21st over. JP Duminy came out to join David Miller at this juncture, and they went on to change the complexion of the match with a record-breaking fifth-wicket partnership.

Miller (138* from 92 balls) and Duminy (115* from 100) put together 256* – an ODI record for the fifth wicket – to swell the total to 339/4. The last ten overs produced 146 runs. Zimbabwe fought hard, as Chamu Chibhabha (64) and Hamilton Masakadza (80) took the score to 191/2 in the 33rd over. Both men were removed by leg-spinner Imran Tahir (3/36), who ensured that there was no further anxiety for the Proteas. Zimbabwe were duly bowled out for 277 in the 49th over.


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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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