Its Big Thing To See
Dale Steyn made a welcome return to ODI cricket by cracking crucial innings of 60 and picking up two scalps, while Imran Tahir bagged a six-wicket haul to power South Africa to a thumping 120-run win against Zimbabwe and help them take an unassailable lead of 2-0 in the three-match series.
While chasing down a target of 199 on a surface where there was a considerable variable bounce, South Africa just ripped through the cream of Zimbabwe’s batting unit to leave them in tatters.
Steyn started the slide by snuffing out Solomon Mire with a nip-backer. After losing the first wicket, Craig Ervine and Hamilton Masakadza (27), playing in his 200th ODI, survived testing spells from Lungi Ngidi and Steyn before the former fell to a stunner of a catch by Andile Phehlukwayo. The all-rounder flew to his right at mid-wicket and plucked an excellent catch.
By then, Zimbabwe’s chances of hunting down the target rested in the hands of senior players – Brendan Taylor and Masakadza. Unfortunately, for the visitors, Taylor was trapped in front in the 14th over by Tahir. Masakadza soon followed him back to the pavilion after he fell to Lungi Ngidi. The ball seemed to be angling down leg, but the umpire answered the loud appeal for an LBW in the affirmative.
Masakadza’s wicket opened the floodgates for Tahir to run through the rest of the batting order. The veteran spinner used his googly and the straighter one to deadly effect to trigger a major collapse, with Zimbabwe losing seven wickets for an addition of just 21 runs. Tendai Chatara and Donald Tiripano delayed the inevitable before the former pulled one straight to the fielder positioned at deep mid-wicket as South Africa finished the formalities.
Earlier, Steyn and Phehlukwayo had shared a crucial stand of 75 for the eighth wicket to haul South Africa out of troubled waters and steer them to a respectable total.
With the home team in dire straits at 101 for 7, Steyn joined forces with Phehlukwayo to lift the spirits of the side. Steyn, who also notched his maiden fifty in ODIs, turned out to be the more aggressive of the two. In the 37th over of the innings, Steyn upped the ante with a sweetly played drive off Sean Williams. Two overs later, he clubbed Chatara for three boundaries.
Just when the duo seemed to be taking the home team into a decent position, Phehlukwayo was dismissed via a strangle down the leg side off Chatara. The all-rounder wasn’t too pleased with the decision but replays confirmed that he had got a faint tickle. Despite losing Imran Tahir at the other end, Steyn continued to flourish, evidenced by the straight six he crunched off Williams to bring up his fifty. The veteran pacer, who came into the side after the hosts decided to rest Kagiso Rabada, also showed the required batting aptitude to shepherd the No. 11 batsman, Ngidi, and stitch a useful alliance of 21 for the final wicket. Eventually, Steyn fell to Tiripano in the 48th over as Zimbabwe wrapped up the innings.
Brief scores: South Africa 198 in 47.3 overs (Dale Steyn 60, Aiden Markram 35; Tendal Chatara 3-42) beat Zimbabwe 78 in 24 overs (Hamilton Masakadza 27; Imran Tahir 6-24) by 120 runs.
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